Food & Fibre Farm Tour at the Reset Summit a great success
Catchment groups across the Upper Clutha have been taking action to improve water and land ecosystems. WAI Wānaka arranged for five high country stations to welcome Reset Summit attendees onto their properties. These visits provided an opportunity for farmers and townsfolk alike to learn about soil health, riparian planting, carbon sequestration, water monitoring and to gain a better appreciation for our rural landscape.
A 2,000ha deer farm, Criffel Station’s One Health principle highlights the interconnected optimal health of water, environment, animals, and people.
Alan McDermott and Simon Stokes provided an engrossing demonstration of visual soil assessment, after digging out a 20 cm cube of topsoil from a paddock adjoining the Criffel Woolshed. Landcare Research has developed excellent Field Guides to help land managers assess soil quality easily, quickly, reliably and cheaply with little equipment, training or technical skills. Various indicators are given a visual score of 0 (poor), 1 (moderate), or 2 (good), by comparing the paddock sample with photographs in the field guide manual.
Hillend is a 2,600ha working sheep, beef, and deer property in the Cardona Valley, surrounded by urban development. Hillend farm manager Mike Scurr, Cardrona Valley Farms owner Sarah Scurr, and facilitator Nicola McGrouther explained how the Cardrona Catchment Group came together and the benefits provided by the Action Network programme. Cardona Alpine Resort is an active participant in the Catchment Group, as is the Cardrona Distillery.
The Catchment group is undertaking water testing, biodiversity and riparian planting, as well as supporting a study of the NZ Falcon – Karearea, which nests within the catchment. Having businesses such as the Distillery and Cardona ski field involved ensures that there is a true ‘whole catchment’ approach, recognising the shared responsibility of all business owners to protect and enhance the environment.
Alpha Burn Station
Alpha Burn is a 4,814ha sheep, beef and deer property on the edge of Lake Wānaka, which has the popular Roys Peak tourist walkway running through the property. Duncan and Allannah McRae are the third generation to run Alpha Burn and are founding members of the Wānaka Catchment Group.
Chris Arbuckle from Aspiring Environmental spoke about the land environment plans which have been prepared for each farm in the catchment group. The catchment group is self funding, with each farm determining their own environmental priorities. The tour group then had the opportunity to check out a water sample from a successful wetland reestablishment project.
Lake Hāwea Station
The 6,500ha Lake Hāwea Station is set in a spectacular spot on the edge of Lake Hawea. The Ross family has committed to planting 10,000 native trees per year for 10 years to meet their carbon sequestration goals, improve water quality and support biodiversity. Finn Ross and GM David O’Sullivan outlined the station’s ambition to become the first 10x carbon positive farm in the world. Ongoing farm improvements include stock fences, waterway fencing, regenerative farming practices and the utilisation of technology. Jim Salinger spoke about climate change impacts and farm practice improvements.
Finn is passionate about seaweed and soil, and the station has been undertaking research into the effectiveness of Asparagopsis to reduce methane emissions from animals.
There are four rare or endangered species on the station, and the owners are actively involved in monitoring and supporting these species with the help of organisations such as DOC and Forest and Bird.
Mt Grand Station
Lincoln University was gifted the 2,100 Mt Grand station in 1988. It is used by postgraduate students for research, and the vision for Mt Grand station is to become a ‘Catalyst Centre of Influence’, embracing Mātauraka Māori to support and sustain te taiao and building ecological, economic, health social and cultural wealth.
Pablo Gregorini, head of the Centre of Excellence Designing Future Productive Landscapes, is a global expert on systems thinking in the rural landscape. The station manager, Rick, spoke about the challenges of managing a profitable station alongside research projects.
Take me back to WAI Action Groups.