Plants are key to protecting our waterways. They absorb excess nutrients and support organisms important for soil health. They provide cover and habitat for birds while their roots help prevent erosion and loss of precious topsoil by stabilising banks. This in turn improves water quality and stream life. We recognise riparian strips are crucial to best practice land management and we pay special attention to these areas.
Significant setbacks, up to 242 metres in one instance, create buffer zones between the pastoral land and major waterways. Our average setback of 75 metres well exceeds the required distance, reflecting our commitment to go beyond regulatory obligations. All our riparian strips and setbacks are fully fenced and planted or managed into a regenerative state. We actively control plant and animal pests to allow for the new plantings to become well established and achieve a ‘free to grow’ state.
WATERWAYS MANAGEMENT PLANS
We have developed a series of management plans for all of the key waterways contained within our land in association with Waikato Regional Council. Formal plans are key to our strategy of active management to improve water quality and to protect and enhance all of our waterways. One of the main tools within our management plan is the removal of animal and plant pests (including wilding pines). In many cases we undertake infill planting within the riparian margins to accelerate regeneration and encourage the development of podocarps.
Nutrient Management Plans ensure systems are in place to monitor and quickly adjust nutrient use for all pastoral farming land. The nutrient plans are developed by our agronomists working with the farm manager and accredited fertiliser reps. We conduct regular soil tests so that application rates are kept in balance with plant needs.
The plans are reviewed annually to maintain responsiveness. One of the positive outcomes is our use of best practise for application of both effluent and fertiliser using Proof of Placement technology.
We have set ourselves an application area target of 10ha effluent per 100 cows, as compared to the current regulation of 4ha per 100cows. An increased area allows for more efficient and effective uptake of nutrients.
Before Wairakei Estate commenced any development works we undertook an extensive baseline monitoring programme of surface water, ground water and ecology which helped set a benchmark for understanding the potential effects of our land uses. An on-going monitoring programme is undertaken to provide meaningful real-time data that allows us to recognise any change and adjust our operational practises to minimise any effects.
The current monitoring programme looks at surface and ground water sampling for nutrients, ecology, stream life as well as flows, water levels, depths etc.
Our data is interpreted in association with Jacobs and Lincoln Agritech, both leaders in their fields.
NEW ZEALAND FARM ENVIRONMENT AWARDS
“New Zealand farmers are amongst the World’s most efficient producers of safe, quality food and are renowned for their long term sustainability focus. This is seen in the excellent stewardship of New Zealand farmland. The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust sets out to take a leadership role in showcasing this stewardship. We set out to publicise and promote widely these profitable sustainable farming practices.” New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Website
The Trust’s awards showcase the excellence of regional farming businesses in a wide range of categories. Wairakei Estate farms have participated since 2004 winning a number of prizes including the top accolade, Supreme Award. An Estate farm was a finalist in the 2012 Waikato region and also received the Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award.
THE NEW ZEALAND DAIRY INDUSTRY TRUST FARM MANAGER OF THE YEAR AWARDS
In 2012, Ian Nelson, farm manager on Resolution Dairy Unit was named Farm Manager of the Year for the Central Plateau Region. We are proud that a number of our dairy assistants have also been recognised by the award.
Animal welfare considerations are at the forefront of planning, design and decision making. Centrally located dairy sheds and generous flat race designs help minimise cow walking distances and improve cow health. We design our farm infrastructure to meet and exceed industry standards and Landcorp's own Animal Welfare code of compliance.
Shelter, protection and shade are also high on our animal welfare agenda. We have created extensive shelter belts and plantings throughout the Estate to provide good cover.
Landcorp prides itself on having high standards when it comes to animal welfare nationally. They have developed a code of practise for animal health which is strictly observed across Wairakei Estate, providing consistent and effective treatment for all animals.
As Wairakei Estate is an intergenerational investment, longevity is engrained in everything we do. Our hand crafted stone wall gateways and extensive beautification planting programme are testament to this.
Tens of thousands of trees have already been planted on Wairakei Estate, many of which are sourced locally. We employ a local craftsman and use stone from nearby Tauhara quarry for our trademark walls .
When development is complete Wairakei Estate will be the biggest contiguous dairy farm operation in the Southern Hemisphere. We like to give each farm its own unique look and flavour. Assigning a signature tree species creates an individualised look to distinguish one holding from another, while poplar trees planted across the Estate bring cohesiveness to the landscape.
We also take great care to establish shelter plants around houses, sheds and effluent ponds, as well as creating future woodlands along roadsides using specimen, tree copse planting. Our extensive Avenue planting also creates a unique experience on each farm.
Pastoral irrigation is a tool used in areas of low and variable rainfall on the Estate. This enables us to maintain more constant levels of soil moisture to ensure a steady production of dry matter. At Wairakei Estate we use state of the art technology including monitoring of real- time soil data to let us know when and where to irrigate. We use automated pivot irrigation systems that can apply water evenly and more efficiently.