Friday, 31 January 2014

Visit with Michael Tayler a fellow Nuffield scholar

I caught up with Michael who did his Nuffield last year on future arable technologies, which is similar to my study so I was keen learn about his findings and see his farming operation. Michael farms with his brother and father, near Winchester in Canterbury. They grow wheat, barley, ryegrass, potatoes, carrots and forage maize, across their 800 ha farm.
The carrots are grown for juice for the Japanese market. Michael formed a joint venture company with another local grower Pyegroup and setup a carrot washing business, and washes 30,000T per year. The carrots can yield up to 110T/ha during the winter, and are much bigger than normal carrots. The whole process can be seen on a youtube video, Carrot Washing.

Irrigating Carrots

Michael also grows potatoes and has a contract with Bluebird foods to supply chipping potatoes from the south island to the north island, as and when required. The inclusion of the carrots and potatoes in the rotation spreads the workload out throughout the year and means that a small experienced team of full time employees are kept busy year round. Not all the land is irrigated, the dryland block has been growing continuous wheat and yielding 9-10T/ha, whereas irrigated wheat yields 11-12T/ha. Some of their land used to be a traditional sheep and beef farm, which has now been converted to cropping and irrigation added, the transformation is stark.

A traditional grass paddock without irrigation

A next door field of wheat with irrigation

The new block of land has only been converted from sheep production for 8 years and is right up to the coast, and now with irrigation is capable of growing roots, cereal and forage crops, just add water at the correct time.
The edge of Michael's farm!

The other side of the tree line to the field of potatoes, is the pacific ocean, which is reclaiming the land at a rate of 30cm per year. One day Michael hopes to meet his neighbours in Chile the otherside of the ocean!

 Grass seed delivery

We took a load of Grass seed to the local seed plant in Timaru in the morning. The grass seed will be dressed and either used for the domestic market or exported as are many of New Zealand's crops. All the produce from the farm is moved by trucks, including potatoes and carrots off the paddocks either to store or direct to the consumer. It would be impossible to run trucks alongside potato and carrot harvesters in the conditions we have experienced in the last couple of seasons!

Forage Maize, No Genetic Modification in this Paddock!

Forage maize is also grown to supply dairy farmers, it is sold by the Kg of dry matter. This is different to the UK, in that most dairy farmers grow their own forage or rent land off other farmers to grow forage on. Whereas NZ dairy farmers get better returns from using all their available land to grow grass for the pastoral system. Selling a crop by yield as opposed to an acreage basis seems a much better way for all parties involved. This a good example of how arable and dairy farms can work together, and could be done more in the UK. The distinction between an arable farmer and a diary farmer is getting blurred in NZ, as many arable farmers will have an interest in a diary business, the Taylors included. Simply because dairying in NZ is the most profitable sector currently, and everyone was a piece of the action.
Michael along with 3 other farmers were expecting delivery of a Veris Electro-conductivity machine with on the go pH measuring capabilities. Initially the farmers are going to use the machine themselves to learn its capabilities and map the soil variability on there land, then will offer a service to other farmers in the area.  

The Taylors, Michael and Sally with Sam, William and Henry

Thanks for a great visit, and looking after me, I hope to see you in the UK in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment