By Siobhan Griffin, retired dairy farmer and regenerative grazing coach
I am [retracting, or rather amending,] my opinion piece about Royalburn Station and Nadia Lim, titled “Nadia’s Farm could use some regen training”, which appeared in the October 31 issue of Farmers Weekly. Now that I have seen episode four where they sort their grazing out and clearly show well-fed and managed livestock, I realise I grossly misjudged them and their conscientious team.
My frustration came from seeing farmers make the same mistake I used to make 15 years ago by allowing my livestock to get ahead of the grass in the summer because I didn’t have the tool of holistic planned grazing to manage my spring surplus better.
Planning for drought and ways to monitor that alert the farmer to an impending drought before the neighbours realise it seemed at the time like information that Royalburn Station could find useful to avoid the problems they encountered at the end of episode three.
I linked them to my website because the featured video interviewed farmers near them in Central Otago whose monitoring last year alerted them that grass was growing slower than expected around Christmas, and they talk about the proactive decisions they made to avoid growing a lot less grass.
I thought this and other free info could be relevant and useful to them at no cost whatsoever.
I was not trying to promote myself but rather holistic management and pointed out they can buy the books and teach themselves.
I have no financial connections with Holistic Management International whatsoever.
I merely found practising it on my farm resulted in the outcomes we wanted around profit, health and biodiversity, and it helped us avoid our grass going brown in the summer and having to feed out winter feed earlier than we wanted.
I was pleased to see Carlos and his father in episode four appreciating the beech forests planted on the working landscape of their new block.
Seeing these farmers value wildlife habitat and growing nutrient-dense food and fibre on a diverse landscape, I realise how I had misjudged this lovely family and their team who, like all farmers I have met in New Zealand, are trying to care for the land and their animals the best they know how.
I now realise short glimpses of a few sheep on TV can never reflect the reality of what is going on with thousands of sheep at the farm and I had no evidence or right to insinuate the sheep had lost any weight whatsoever. This was simply unfair to these hardworking farmers and I apologize to everyone involved. The footage in episode four of many more sheep in lovely condition proves I was completely off the mark.