Friesian bulls graze the plantain crop.
In a typically self-effacing, dry-humoured sort of way, Ed Handyside describes himself as being “as dumb as a box of hammers”. Hardly an apt description of someone whose sheep and beef operation during the past three years has shown a return on capital of between 5% and 6.5%. It is a return which compares favourably with a hypothetical dairying system on the same land. Ed and his wife, Mel, farm at Te Hopia near Kahutara, South Wairarapa. They are the 2013 Wairarapa Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year winners. Most past winners of this 30-year-old award are Wairarapa hill-country farmers. The Handysides have a flat land component to their operation that would have their dairy farming neighbours envious. It’s the performances of these dairy farmers that the Handysides have benchmarked their economic farm surplus (EFS) against. On a return-on-capital basis the figures stack up favourably.