Landcorp Farming Ltd
Landcorp is a leader in New Zealand agriculture and strives for best practice in pastoral farming, for sustainable use of resources and continuous improvement and innovation in farm systems. Landcorp’s values are an ideal fit with Wairakei Pastoral Limited’s vision for Wairakei Estate. Their shared belief in guardianship has led to a close, resilient, and successful long-term partnership.
Like Wairakei Pastoral Limited, environmental considerations are an integral part of all Landcorp’s business decisions. In 2015, Landcorp established an Environmental Reference Group (ERG) to help guide Wairakei Estate’s forestry to dairy platform conversions. This environmental consultation group consists of scientists, environmental advocates and commercial experts around New Zealand and focuses on the systematic rejuvenation of the environment.
Landcorp operates to a high level of environmental guardianship and has adopted several processes and technologies for environmentally smart farming, including some more unusual initiatives. Some examples of this are:
- Landcorp ensures there is an allowance for individual variation in each of the 18 dairy platforms established across Wairakei Estate. Each platform operates with its own Land and Environment Plan (LEP). Each individual LEP is based on the results of a comprehensive survey of the soil, topography, waterways and other significant natural features, combined with a history of each farm’s productivity – paddock-by-paddock. Each LEP maps out the dairy platform today and lists management action required to achieve sustainability in both environmental and productive terms. LEPs factor in all local authority programmes for supporting environmental enhancement and all legal obligations to be met.
- Landcorp prides itself on having high standards when it comes to animal welfare. Animal welfare considerations are at the forefront of Landcorp’s planning, design and decision-making. They have developed a code of practice for animal health, this is strictly observed across Wairakei Estate, providing consistent and effective treatment for all animals. Landcorp designs their farm infrastructure to meet and exceed industry standards and Landcorp’s own Animal Welfare code of compliance.
Centrally located dairy sheds and generous flat race designs help minimise walking distances and improves the health of cows.
Shelter, protection and shade are also high on Landcorp’s animal welfare agenda. Extensive shelter belts and plantings have been created throughout Wairakei Estate to provide good cover.
- All Landcorp dairy units have a Nutrient Management Plan (these are a compulsory requirement by Waikato Regional Council) – these are specific to each individual unit and are created using a specialist, strategic management tool that supports optimal nutrient use on each unit, for environmental management and increased profitability.
Nutrient Management Plans ensure systems are in place to monitor and quickly adjust nutrient use for all pastoral farming land on Wairakei Estate. Working alongside the farm manager, and accredited fertiliser reps, these nutrient plans are developed by Landcorp’s agronomists. Landcorp conducts regular soil tests so that application rates are kept in balance with plant needs.
Landcorp reviews these plans annually to maintain responsiveness. One of the positive outcomes is their use of best practice for application of both effluent and fertiliser using Proof of Placement technology.
- They have set themselves an application area target of 10ha effluent per 100 cows, as compared to the current regulation of 4ha per 100 cows. This increased area allows for more efficient and effective uptake of nutrients.
- Landcorp staff must also complete a Nutrient Management Module to learn the cumulative environmental influences of their dairy systems and practices, including crop management, fertiliser use and effluent applications.
- Wairakei Pastoral Limited and Landcorp are currently investigating the potential environmental benefits of introducing specialist ruminant dung-feeding beetles to Wairakei Estate, to improve soil health and reduce nutrient runoff, increase soil aeration and improve pasture productivity.
- Landcorp measures the success of their dairy platforms by their profitability and environmental scorecards. They operate on the basis that it is possible for both to be high performing, with one never being at the expense of the other.