I arrived back home on Thursday and on Tuesday got straight back to work. I caught up with the team who were busy planning their day. We are less than two weeks away from starting sowing, so I have plenty to do! My main tasks include paddock application maps and preparing final plans for our sowing programme. I did take some time on the weekend to have fun with the kids though.
Monday, 18 March 2013
This morning I met with Ken Ring a world renowned weather forecaster who uses the effect of the moon, sun and planets to generate annual weather forecasts for
Australia, and Ireland. Ken
lived in an RV on a beach for a time during his life. He noticed that severe
storms were associated with king tides. This got him thinking that perhaps the
moon had an affect on the atmosphere and the weather just as it affects the
oceans. This started him studying the
affects of the terrestrial bodies on the weather. His research has even traced this style of
weather forecasting back to ancient civilizations. When ever these types of tools
are used it inevitably raises eyebrows with mainstream forecasters; however Ken
quotes published scientific papers to back up the methodology he uses.
|Ken Ring at his work station|
Well this ends the world travel part of my study project, I have now left
Sunday, 17 March 2013
Traveling from Gisborn to Rotorua the scenery is simply stunning, but you know when you are nearing Rotorua as the smell of Hydrogen Sulphide or rotten egg gas greets you.
Rotorua is home to one of the most active geothermal areas within
and reminds you of the forces that are at play below this Island.
As water seeps though the surface to the super hot rocks some 4km below,
pressure gradually builds up to the point where it is released via vents of
steam and geysers and boiling pits of mud. The minerals brought to the surface,
colour the mud and adding their own beauty. The area around the springs is a
special place for the Moari tribes and is still held in their custody
There is so much to see at Rotorua and unfortunately I only had a couple of hours to spend on my way to
As I said in one of my earlier posts
New Zealand is
currently in the midst of a drought. Though feed is short the sheep at Wairakaia
are still in very good condition Sandra, Rob, Bruce and Joe are very forward
looking and use triggers to progressively unroll their drought strategy to
reduce the impact of drought on their business.
|Happy looking sheep despite the drought|
This morning I helped Sandra and Rob to feed reject squash to their sheep. This is a cheap food source to help supplement the dwindling pasture reserves.
|Heading out to feed the sheep with a load of Squash|
In the afternoon Bruce, gave me a guided tour around their property. The farm is situated in an area that is quite hilly. The livestock graze the hill country while the cropping is saved for the flatter, fertile, deeper soils in the valley floor. The fragile hill country is easily eroded and subject to landslips from time to time. To alleviate this revegetation of the most erodable land classes has occurred. I was given a close look a some of the problems associated with erosion when during my farm tour the ute slipped into a difficult to see rut.
|Sweetcorn for seed|
I had a morning meeting with Nuffield Scholar, Hugh Richies. Hugh studied No Till farming for his Nuffield and currently grows Buttercup Squash, Sweetcorn for canning, maize and grass for his sheep and cattle. Hugh has 9 employees, including a farm manager for his livestock enterprise. Hughs wife, Sharon comes from an education background and has used her knowledge of staff management in that role to bring some great ideas to their farm business.
After lunch Nuffield Scholar Sandra Faulkner and I traveled 3 hours north to Gisborne, the location of their family property. As we traveled it was interesting to note the large numbers of commercial pine plantations, which support the large timber industry of this area.
|Some of the picturesque scenery as we traveled|
The property 'Wairakaia' is quite diversified. Their enterprises include Sheep, buttercup squash, sweetcorn for seed, maize and a citrus orchard. Sandra & Rob farm the property together with Robs sister Joe & Brother in law Bruce
An early start saw me traveling from South Canterbury north toward Picton, for a ferry crossing to the North Island and to
capital of New Zealand.
I was fortunate to have George Orchiston also have traveling with me. George
has a fascinating background and is currently working as a agricultural real
estate agent working together with farmers and developers to use equity capital
to help farms develop efficiencies and economies of scale.
|George Orchiston on Picton Warf|
Zealand is suffering from severe drought,
probably the worst in 70 years. Usually droughts in New
Zealand are area specific though this one has affected
both the North and the South Island.
Leaving Picton on the ferry is very picturesque as you travel through the
sound. Ferrys travel hourly between the Islands
and are always full of vehicles as well as large numbers of passengers.
Wellington we headed for
Hastings which is in the
area where we stayed the night with friends. Hawkes Bay
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
This morning I enjoyed a cycle around the
Canterbury country side with Mikes wife Sally.
It is so flat around here making a cycling a breeze.
|Nice flat country and lots of cows in little paddocks|
Mike arranged some visits for me including with his agronomist and a large neighboring family farming enterprise which manages a quite diverse business. This includes, arable farming, contracting, seven dairies and a carrot washing business which Mike & Sally have shares in. Michelle provided me with an interesting insight into the systems used in running their business.
Later in the afternoon I cut my teeth on Mikes potatoes harvester.
|This is what we are digging for|
|This machine windrows 2 rows into the next two rows|
|Hard at work|
|About to get dug|
|Quite pretty place to work right by the sea|
|The trucks are full, time for a beer|
Following a 3am start I flew down to
Christchurch then traveled to Mike &
Sally Taylers farm.
|View of cloud over New Zealand during my plane flight from Auckland to Christchurch|
Mike showed me round his property, his enterprises include cereal crops, Specialty seed crops, potatoes for fries, juicing carrots and two dairies.
|Carrot washing facility set up as a joint venture|
|A hybrid seed crop. The slashed rows were male pollinator rows|
The female seed rows will soon be harvested
|Juicing carrot crop|
|Mikes A- "Maizing" crop|
|Phar Lap was born and raised here.|
the zoo is a must see to get a perspective of the critters that live here, plus
some great exhibits of other critters from around the world.
|A NZ Kia|
|The locals call these Tuna, but they are actually eels|
|These are not native to New Zealand, but were very funny|
|The Sky Tower by night|
and crossing the International date line, I lost a day but arrived very early
in Aukland on the morning of the 10th.
I dropped my bags at my hotel, and as it was Sunday I thought I’d check out the local church scene, I had a look on the internet and discovered a church called C3 which seemed to be embracing technology in their ministry. As I had never been to
Auckland before I, I was unfamiliar with the
layout, but was impressed that these guys had a system where you could text
them and they would come and pick you up and take you to their church. When I
got to church it was pretty obvious why they were tech savy, 2/3 of the members
were probably below 40 and 1/3 below 25. Speaking to the leaders it was
interesting to note the responsibility that was given to the younger members of
the church. They had risen to the challenge and really created a sense of
vitality within the church. I think
there is something here that could be applied on many farms, in giving the
younger generation more responsibility, and allowing them to rise to the
In the afternoon I went to the Aukland war memorial and museum. The displays of Maori culture were fantastic. I gained a much better understanding of the Maori wars and the development of NZ as a nation.
The live, dramatized, Maori cultural display was also excellent and their rhythm and singing was superb. The museum also had great natural history displays including a history of volcanic eruptions in NZ. This was very interesting from a weather perspective in the light of what I have found in my research.
|Famous Volcano eruptions and the relative size of their plume|
A cross sectional cut of a 1000 year old kaori tree was also among my highlights. This showed growth rings for the last 1000 years, which is essence is a 1000 year rainfall record.
|A 1000 year old Kaori tree|
|History that has passed in the life of this tree|
Sunday, 10 March 2013
On my way back from Anguil to Buenos Aries I departed for the first time from my normal schedule and did not book my accommodation, this was a mistake as hotels were either too dodgy, booked out or my GPS lead me astray. I eventually managed to find accommodation in Lujan a city about an hour from Buenos Aries. It proved to be a real treat as my hotel was located next to a magnificent cathedral.
The cathedral is a neo-gothic Basilica built in honor of the Virgin of Lujan, the patron saint of
. Every year more than 6
million people make pilgrimages here, many walking from Argentina . Lujan is actually known as “The
Capital of the Faith” The church towers over the city landscape rising to a
height of 106 m and houses the tiny 38cm statue of the virgin. Buenos Aires
|The museum next to the cathedral was also supposed to be well worth seeing but was closed|
The Director of INTA Anguil research station, Jesus Fernandez took me for a farm tour of the 6000ha property. This area has been using No Till for 25 years. When they were about 10 years into it they suddenly began having problems with large flocks of Pigeons and Starlings. The birds were able to find a great food source in the stubbles and bred rapidly so that the flocks number in the thousands. This has become a real issue across La Pampa with the birds devouring large quantities of ripening crops.
|A flock of Starlings|
|Jesus Fernandez inspecting the grain in a Sunflower head|
|The Research facility also had a 150 head sheep dairy, these sheep are a dual purpose breed |
They are a cross between Corredale and Fresian.
|Standing in a field of corn|
|A common site near every major intersection is teams of contractors ready for the summercrop harvest|