When I was growing up in the little settlement of Elstow to the North West of Te Aroha I only had to travel down the road to the south a mile or so to see a contrast. If we traveled North it was two miles and if we went further North West 10 miles.
The contrast was the soil types. In every direction you went from home it was a contrast. If you hopped over the back boundary you were in the Kapuati Peat Swamp where the peat was up to 30 meters deep.
What was noticeable to me then was not the soil types because I knew nothing about them, but it was what grew on that soil and how they were farmed.
If we went the ten miles North West we were in marine clay country. In late winter traveling to rugby it was only ten miles but how could they have all this really tall grass because, to me it was winter so it shouldn’t be happening. There was phalaris, timothy, cocksfoot, annual ryes and they were calving their cows about a month ahead of the district we were in.
About three miles South there were friends of mum and dad who had 80 hectares(200 acres).
They milked 200 cows. They were considered good farmers and produced 600 kg of butterfat per hectare. In today’s terms 1000 kg of milk solids per hectare, with very little input. They weren’t on the peat!
Today if you take away all the inputs that farmers are buying and using to get production, there is no doubt that these farms cannot do the same production and its got nothing to do with climate change.
As farmers we really have to take to heart things that are not going the way they should. Being an avid duck hunter (well I Used to Be) not only did we see what was going on, on the farms. We could also see what was going on in the waterways.
We didn’t need fancy monitoring equipment. You can tell by what weeds are growing, algae and the resulting wildlife. In those days there were ducks everywhere, in road drains, ponds, canals, rivers butt where are they now?
Our propensity for production has muddied the waters of prosperity in more ways than one. We have forgotten that profit has a cost on the environment which really is making us poorer as a society.
As time has gone on my interest in farming has not diminished even when it has dealt me brutal blows. Sometimes we have to dig deep and challenge our thinking and the thinking of the people who advise us and really come to grips with why we have not progressed. We have regressed on the whole in our productive capacity and the quality of what we produce.
There are other ways to make changes and that only comes from education. Educate yourself and give yourself the confidence to stand up and make a difference.
To learn more book a call with Ewan got educated Campbell.