Sunday morning saw us leave Christchurch for the long drive down to Dunedin, with a couple of important stops along the way.
Our first visit was to Michael & Susie Woodward from Woodward Farms LTD, who 50/50 sharemilk for Theland Farm Group – Purata Farms at Dunsandel on the Canterbury Plains. They run 1050 Kiwi-Cross cows on 300ha with irrigation to the whole farm.
Michael & Susie place a priority on recruiting and retaining good people to work alongside them in running the dairy farming business. One of the many ways they achieve this is by having excellent communication systems in place. A prime example of this is that they have a team meeting at 7am every morning to go through the jobs for the day, and discuss any issues from the day before. As the farm supplies Synlait under the ‘Lead with Pride’ and Grassfed special milk programs, they are required to have detailed standard operating procedures (SOP’s) for all areas of the farm. These SOP’s form a key part of the communication systems, as all employees are given a copy to learn how things are done on this farm. The ‘Lead with Pride’ suppliers are audited by an external party to ensure compliance with their individual farm SOP’s to maintain the ISO accreditation required by Synlait to be a part of that particular milk supply program.
The need to reduce nutrient leaching from farms has become a prioity for New Zealand dairy farmers with the Government introducing legislation to improve water quality, which has meant that most farms need to reduce nitrogen loss by 30% within the next 3 years. In order to achieve this reduction Michael & Susie have changed their pasture management practices, added plantain into the pasture mix and now use kale as their fodder crop of choice fro winter feed.
Our next stop involved a slight detour out to Banks Peninsula to visit the Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory, where we met with Pete Corbitt the cheif cheesemaker.
Pete explained the cheesmaking process they use in the factory is still a manual process with little to no automation, which adds to the unique flavour of their cheeses. They produce a range of hard style cheese at the factory including cheddar, havarti and gouda just to name a few.
After tasting all the delicious cheese on offer, it was time to pile back onto the minibus for the 5hr drive down to Dunedin!
– Majella Ryan