At Velthuis Farms we firmly believe that environmentally sound farming practices, create profitable farms. Our whole operation is geared towards this with strategies to ensure environmental considerations are an integral part of all our business decisions.
We’re committed to systematic rejuvenation of the environment, alongside the productive and profitable use of land. We’ve stepped up the proactive management of nutrient application, water quality and forests, and will grow more trees and native vegetation.
We will also continue to protect high-value conservation areas on Velthuis Farms-owned properties and adopt the best knowledge and technologies for environmentally smart farming. We can’t do it on our own so we consult widely on how it can be best achieved with commercial and scientific efficiency.
We measure the success of our farms by their profitability and environmental scorecards – we believe it’s possible for both to be high performing.
How we farm
Every Velthuis Farms farm operates with a Land and Environment Plan (LEP). Water quality, biodiversity and visual landscapes all benefit – as does farm business performance.
Each LEP is based on a comprehensive survey of the farm’s land type, topography, waterways and other natural features, combined with a history of its productive use paddock-by-paddock. The LEP maps out the farm today and lists management action required to achieve sustainability in both environmental and productive terms.
LEPs also take account of local authority programmes for supporting environmental enhancement. They enable Velthuis Farms to ensure that legal obligations regarding nutrient run-off, protection of waterways and land use, especially on steep hill country, are being met at the local level.
All farms have a Nutrient Budget - a farm specific ‘balance sheet’ detailing all the nutrient inputs and outputs from the farm system and calculating the fate of these nutrients. The nutrient budgets are put together with specialist advice from our fertiliser supplier’s technical field consultants using OVERSEER® - a strategic management tool that supports optimal nutrient use on farm for increased profitability and managing within environmental limits.
Staff also complete a Nutrient Management Module to understand the cumulative environmental influences of their farm system and practices, including crop management, fertiliser use and effluent applications.
Velthuis Farms has so far protected 16,281 hectares of high conservation value under covenants with the Department of Conservation, the QE II Trust and other bodies. The areas include bush, wetlands, streams and ponds. We’ll continue to add more covenants to protect high conservation value land across our farms.
Carbon neutral by 2025
Our current carbon footprint is subject to expert measurement (this includes emission offset from the Company’s 8,500 hectares of forestry), and we have a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 on all the land that we own.
We recently announced the planting of an additional 93ha of mānuka honey trees, playing an important role in increasing the value of the lucrative mānuka honey industry. The new plantings are part of the High Performance Mānuka Plantations Programme — a seven year Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) between the mānuka honey industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to increase the yield and reliability of supply of medical grade mānuka honey. The trees will be planted on our farms in the Wairarapa, Canterbury and Te Anau, doubling the PGP’s capacity to conduct commercial field trials.
Working with environmental experts
Velthuis Farms is establishing an environmental consultation group of scientists, environmental advocates and commercial experts around the country to help guide our rejuvenation strategy.
Natural Bio Control
Our Farm Systems and Innovation team is in the process of introducing insects on to our farms as a means of controlling introduced weeds, such as Californian thistle and ragwort. The team has been in contact with Regional Council Biocontrol officers who also use these insects as a tool for controlling persistent weeds in their region. In conjunction with the council officers the viability and future success of insect introductions will be assessed before releases are made.
Smart Farm Systems
We’ve installed effluent monitoring systems on all our owned farms. The ‘Smart Farm System’ is a farm software package that uses a telemetry system to monitor farm effluent applications. The telemetry system is an automated communications process where data is collected from instruments located at remote or inaccessible points on the farm and transmitted to receiving equipment. If there is a fault in the effluent line, the monitoring system detects the breach and immediately shuts off the effluent spreader pump. When a fault does occur the system immediately identifies the problem allowing for simple and easy fixes out in the paddock and no breaching of regional council effluent application regulations.