Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday, January 15

Note: Group is 19 hours ahead of CST.

Today we arrived at 9:30 a.m. from our overnight farm stays. Everyone had a great time and found the stays very interesting. See the blogs from some homestays (already posted). From there we traveled to the Waitatapia Station Ltd. located six miles west of Bulls. The farm is owned and managed by brothers Hew and Roger Dalrymple and consists of corn, wheat, squash, oats, and kale production. They are involved in lamb and beef trading by contracting 4,000 head of beef cattle and marketing 67,000 lambs last year. They also have 1,000 acres of forest land and run sixteen center pivots for irrigation. Corn is grown for silage, earlage and grain production for the local markets, wheat is grown to supply the dairy industry, and squash is grown to export to Japan and Korea.

Hew and Roger utilized high levels of technology in their farming operations. As Hew indicated “We want to be smarter than them at all times” when referring to government conservation officials. They have adopted land contouring techniques to optimize soil depth levels over an entire field providing uniform moisture levels and increasing overall yield potential. They are the first in New Zealand to use this technique. Variable rate irrigation with each nozzle being controlled to optimize water application and extensively mapping fields is also part of their cropping management. All of their management decisions are extensively researched. They have purchased a wide range of farm machinery from the U.S. including CASE IH combines and 4-wheel drive tractors and Great Plains seeders from Fargo, ND. After harvest of the main crops, grass is planted for winter grazing. This was an outstanding farm visit.

Steve Pohl

Farmstay (Pohls, Lola Roseth, Linda Smith)
Judy Bonner, the hostess of our farmstay was a very gracious and hospitable lady. She was a “spicy” gal who had been widowed and recently found a soulmate, Stuart, again. Judy and her husband had been sheep farmers with three sons, one of whom was now living close by and farming for her. He was also, as she said many New Zealanders were, supplementing his income. In this case, going high up into the mountains and shepherding for others.

In our visiting we found Judy and Stuart felt New Zealand had many of the same issues as we have in our country – animal rights activists; retirement benefits; health care, the reclaiming of land by Maori tribes and the effects of this on the country’s finances.

Before heading back to meet the rest of our group, we left the beautiful gardens of Judy’s home and drove up the road to the top of a hill overlooking her home and land with beautiful mountains in the background. Can’t get much closer to heaven than this!

Lola Roseth, Linda Smith, Steve and Kathy Pohl