Central Plains Water Ltd Central Plains Water Ltd

Teamwork at Terracefields.

Greendot

Don and Jenny Hayes purchased the 535ha Terracefields Farm, located next to the Rakaia River, just over 30 years ago. Don was an avid sheep farmer and in the early days the property was run as a sheep and beef farm. That was until 2007, when Don was approached by his neighbours asking if he would be interested in growing winter grazing. This was the beginning of a long and successful partnership, with Don starting with two or three paddocks of kale to now running a comprehensive dairy support operation. Six years ago, Adam Hardie joined the team as manager of Darrochs Grazing and today, the business winters 5,800 cows with 5,200 from neighboring farms.

Don recognised the benefits that Central Plains Water would bring in the early stages of the project development. The farm was partially irrigated at the time via galleries and there were few options for accessing more water. Extending the irrigation area was a no-brainer in Don’s mind. He knew the water would give them more options going forward. “Having water delivered under pressure to your gate and the environmental buffer and support provided by CPW is a great thing” says Don.

Don and team manager Adam speak highly of advisors who have helped them over the years, including environmental consultants, AgriMagic. Don says they give him the confidence to farm under constantly changing environmental regulations, with the goalposts changing regularly. This large-scale dairy support property is aware of the risk its farm activities pose to the surrounding environment, particularly in terms of location and proximity to the river. It was advice from AgriMagic, that spurred the commencement of biological surveys on the farm. A key part of this work is soil health testing. For the last three years Darrochs have undertaken worm counts and infiltration rate testing in the same areas of paddocks and farm water quality tests including nitrates and E. coli. Adam said that the biological surveys are helping to build a comprehensive record and understanding of their soil health and the impacts of their farming practices on the land.

For the past five years, Darrochs has also been involved in native restoration projects through Te Ara Kakariki. The Greendot Restoration Plan helps to build self-supporting plant communities and contributes to improving the biodiversity of the Canterbury Plains wildlife habitats, providing corridors and linkages across the Plains. Over the last four years approximately 4,000 plants have been planted in a restoration site, with another 600 plants scattered across other farm areas.

Adam and Don have a complementary and comfortable relationship with their grazing partners, consultants and each other. They value surrounding themselves with people who bring real and practical advice about approaching environmental issues and ways of doing things better on farm. Their partners bring a different perspective to operations, facilitating a constant evolution of their farming practices.