Friday, July 1, 2022

In the mix

Bringing four farms together to run as one is a challenging process. Farm manager Andrew Solomann, his team on the ground at Parikanapa Station, and wider Landcorp management, have taken to the task with gusto. The purchase and amalgamation of four farms – Taumutu 1178ha, Parikanapa 1302ha, Hakanui 610ha and Tahu nui 600ha – at Waerenga-o-kuri southwest of Gisborne resulted in a mix of genetics, soil qualities, production and fertiliser histories. Farm facts:   Parikanapa Station 3100ha effective Stocking rate: 9su/ha Altitude ranges from 330m to 650m Owned by Landcorp Manager: Andrew Solomann Staff: Stock manager Phil Cook, shepherds Luke Russell, Samantha Shaw, Ben Stevens, maintenance manager/general hand Dave Wilson, casual fencer Shane Ferguson, plus casual labour during the busiest times.

Consistent monitoring of livestock and comparing actual and target weights is helping to move the farm forward, bring the blocks up to similar levels and get production rolling on Landcorp’s new property.

Solomann took on the manager’s role five years ago following the purchase of Parikanapa and Taumutu in 2007. He said combining the stock on four properties led to variations in genetics and animal performance, plus different mating, lambing and calving dates.

Varied fertiliser histories meant some areas were more productive than others, with, for example, Olsen-P levels ranging from eight to 30.

“That makes a big difference in terms of how spring kicks off on those blocks, too,” Solomann said.

Since buying the farms, a mix of varying amounts of superphosphate and lime have been applied, with little improvement in overall soil fertility. Fertiliser applications now target specific elements for each block, which should improve less productive areas.

Seasonal fertiliser applications of 18 units/ha of phosphate cost $285,000 this year, with $300,000 in the fertiliser budget next financial year.

During the past 18 months 42km of new fencing has been built, plus four sets of satellite sheep yards. Covered yards at the main sheep complex have been rebuilt.

Further subdivision, another 600ha of fencing, will increase paddock numbers from 220 to 230-240, aiming for an average paddock size of 15-20ha.

Part of the property included a deer farm, with 1100 breeding hinds. Instead of making improvements to deer fencing and facilities, deer have been phased out so that capital can be spent in other areas.

Solomann said it was important to get the facilities right.

“We wanted to do it in two years, so we got stuck in and hopefully we’re going to start getting some pay-back. It’s all about timing and looking at the big picture.”

So far, all profits earned on Parikanapa have gone back into capital development – funded from the farm’s budget and Landcorp’s wider pool of capital.

“There will be a time when they say no and I have to return all my profits to Wellington,” Solomann said.

He hopes to install a water reticulation system on 20% of the farm and likened considering such a project and getting Landcorp approval to going the bank to borrow money. Once he had all the figures and predicted internal rate of return, the proposal would go to head office for consideration.

As well as monitoring livestock weights at key dates, Solomann said the financial budget was updated each month and correlated with the farm plan.

He relies on regular contacts with business manager Gareth Young, who doubles as a farm consultant and bank manager.

Young visits the farm every six weeks. He and Solomann speak for an hour on the phone each week and communicate regularly via email.

“Communication is a must on big farm like this. I need to talk my bosses and the guys on the ground need to talk to me.”

Development 

Costs so far:

  • Internal, boundary and covenant fencing: $575,000
  • Four satellite sheep yards and rebuild of main sheep complex: $360,000
  • Tracks: $140,000
  • Dams: $50,000
  • Farm office: $75,000
  • New homestead: $420,000 

 

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