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Tongariro Farm, Foxton

Manager: Matt Johnson
Awards: Balance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management, LIC Dairy Farm Award, Horizons Region 2014

Tongariro Farm is one of nine dairy units on the 1400ha Moutoa Velthuis Farms operation, just south of Foxton. A 40ha swamp reserve is on the farm, protected by a QEII Trust covenant. Matt managed the 200ha (effective) 650-cow unit for two years and worked on the Moutoa complex for six years.

Production last year was a farm record 1410kg MS/ha. A 50-balerotary cowshed is used, installed 15 years ago when the land was converted from sheep and beef. In the past two years Matt and Moutoa Operations Manager, Brian Wilkinson have overseen the installation of an effluent system and feed pad the judges described as “state of the art”.

The property is flat and sits at between one and three metres above sea level so digging an effluent pond wasn’t an option says Matt. Instead they opted for a two million litre lined aboveground tank and a system that separates solid and liquid effluent. The solids are composted and dried into a form that can be spread like fertiliser.

There are particular management considerations on Tongariro, especially around milk fever due to high potassium in the soil and mastitis caused by soil moisture readily reaching saturation point. Half the herd is wintered off to reduce winter loading.

Over the past two years Matt has had a growing focus on sustainable land use over a long time period. He says he values Landcorp’s approach to farming and sustainability and has accepted a new role as Business Manager for Landcorp’s Wairakei estate near Taupo.

Judges Comments:
  • An enthusiastic and knowledgeable manager who is focused on farming sustainability.