SUSTAINABLE FARMING IN NEW ZEALAND

HILL COUNTRY

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  • Sustainable Hill Country

An exciting addition to the grazable shrub programme took place in October 2019. Three native tree species were planted in a trial at Jon and Fiona Sherlock's property ‘Otorohaea’, near Huntly.


Five Finger (Whauwhaupaku), Whitey Wood (Mahoe) and Broadleaf (Kapuka) were chosen because they are already known to be palatable and are well adapted to the hill country.

After a long day of work involving three generations of the Sherlock family, there were a total of 45 native trees (15 of each) and 20 Tagasaste seedlings planted inside steel tree guards. All the trees will be fenced from cattle with a single hot wire until they are ready to graze, but sheep will have full access.


This is an important development in the grazable shrubs project, with the possibility of using this planting in future research. The Sherlocks are enthusiastic about the possibilities for their farm.



(Read a detailed report here)



Jon and helpers fixing a steel tree guard in place



The Tagasaste site



A view of the area planted with native species in threes (one of each)


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  • Sustainable Hill Country

Our ‘Grazable Shrubs’ project work and latest Field Day findings have made the local news - appearing in a recent Wairoa Star edition.


An interview with project manager Peter Manson, shared the latest promising results and aims of the the three year trial - exploring the “use of tree species to hold soil on steeper more exposed faces while maintaining its productive capacity.”


This year has involved a closer focus at growing a range of common pasture species under Tree Lucerne (Tagasaste). The latest findings of the project have discovered which pasture species have been growing more successfully on the drier hill sites under Tagasaste - such as Lotus, Red Clover, and the new Cocksfoot variety.


Mr Manson also mentioned a few of the challenges the Trial has been facing; the experiment  of whether the tree can offer sustainable feed for livestock and remaining beneficial for the land itself - having to now be conducted separately.


The strong benefits of Tagasaste - feeds native birds, nitrogen fixer, top soil re-builder and a valuable early-season pollen source for bees - are all highlighted for the Wairoa Star readers, with the hopes of engaging the interest of local farmers.



Take a closer look at the article below:






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  • Sustainable Hill Country

Welcome to our project’s first official blog post!


Here, we hope to be posting regular updates on our project for you - including interesting and relevant info, field day recaps and upcoming events.


We recently had a field day on the 7th of August, on Nick Broad’s property in Waituku. The core project team along with a few local farmers, spent Wednesday afternoon taking a close look at how the Tagasaste trial work is going.


Recap of the Day:

  • Understorey study has proved that Lotus, Red Clover and the new Cocksfoot variety have been good performers in this environment (Prairie Grass in early days).

  • New regrowth on the recently trimmed ‘Direct Graze Trial’ trees shows that there is a lot of potential for this type of management (again, early days still!).

  • Tagasaste planted apart from main plantation inside tree guards prior to project beginning, is looking great. The idea was to continue grazing so that there would be no loss of pasture quality.


Where to from here?

  • Scale up the pasture species work using the best species. How to establish them?

  • How will this system affect the carrying capacity? Higher/Lower Su/Ha?

  • How good is Tagasaste at holding the soil?

  • How will we manage the understorey pasture mix for best results?


Click HERE to find the location of the field day's summary and scientific handout


The group discusses results from trees-on-pasture

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