Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Carbon price makes trees valuable

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A rising carbon price under the Emissions Trading Scheme has changed a Canterbury sheep farmer’s attitude to exotic forestry and native regrowth. Tim Fulton reports.
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Spray them? 

No way, Romney breeder Hugh Taylor says now when he inspects his redwood and regenerating native trees.

But it wasn’t always that way. 

He did once consider spraying the 600ha plantation. 

Five years ago Taylor and family moved from gentle country at Oxford to harder North Canterbury hill country hoping to show clients how well their stock could shift.

The terrain turned out to be tougher than they thought. 

The Doone borders the Conway River between Waiau and Kaikoura, smack on a faultline that ripped in the November 2016 earthquake.

When the Taylors bought the 3600ha property at a mortgagee sale in mid 2013 it had dams and streams but no water reticulation system and barely any fences.

Led by one of Hugh’s sons, farmer manager Marcus, the extended family and contractors spent two years replacing browntop, fixing fences and reconfiguring yards. 

Then the quake busted the homestead and two other farmhouses, quite apart from tearing up tracks.

“All the way down to the Conway it’s shingle slides, it’s slips,” Hugh said.

For the first six months after the quake it was impossible to get wool off the place. 

“When you buy a rundown place you don’t expect a 7.8 earthquake to come and make things a little bit harder,” Hugh said.

The redwoods in this plantation are well suited to The Doone.

The Doone has 40ha of flats, 40ha of terraces and 482ha of medium to medium-steep country ranging up to tussock hill.

Marcus and his wife Leanne live on the place, working alongside shepherd Mark Turner, while Hugh drops in to help as needed.

About 300ha can be cultivated by wheel tractor, whereas the balance is medium to steep hill country. 

Hugh, Doughboy’s principal studmaster, is using DNA testing to identify the best animals for growth, meat yield and carcase qualities as well as other easy care, high-production traits and continues to work with Lincoln University sheep geneticist Jon Hickford on monitoring fertility, mothering ability and weaning weights. 

Taylor said since moving the stud to The Doone they have identified robust constitution as a significant trait. All the Romneys are visually assessed and data is submitted 

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