Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Water boosts production

Richard has prioritised his time towards production on the flats.

“Water was the limiting factor on these stony soils and it was always my dream to get water here.”

The dam has secured water for the valuable vineyard crop if the Waihopai River runs low. Stored water is also used to boost sheep and beef production off the flats. The 60ha of stony river flats grow lucerne, red clover, rape, Pasja, barley for grain, hybrid ryegrass with clovers, and Italian ryegrass for winter grazing.

Richard puts the gross pastoral benefits from the irrigation at $188,000 for 2011-12 from an initial investment of around $250,000, not including the dam.

The Rotorainer needs two hours a day to shift and, due to the gravity and tractor-booster system, power costs are only $15,000 a year. This includes pumping water around the vineyard. The tractor uses one-and-a-half litres of diesel each hour to run the booster (around $450 a week).

With water, yearling heifers have been able to successfully go to the bull (with an 85% calving percentage). This brought in another $20,000. The 35 heifers were wintered on Goliath rape to make sure they reached a minimum of 330kg liveweight (kg LW) before they went to the bull in November.

An improved flushing of ewes saw another $50,000 worth of lambs. More lambs were finished in 2011, yielding an extra $62,500. Hoggets were able to be mated (worth an extra $50,000) and they had enough feed during lactation with Winter Star Italian ryegrass grown for them.

An extra 50kg LW was added to each of the 110 steers in 2011 (worth $10,000). The 11ha of lucerne is used for summer lamb finishing and this will be doubled in 2013. This summer 15ha of the terrace country will have pod irrigation installed.

Richard and Anna are comfortable with running several diverse businesses. One of their goals is to continue the strategy of diversification by realising the potential of the various land types on the property.

Another goal of Richard and Anna’s is to draw up a template for the running of the property. This will help management and perhaps improve the chance of getting away for a holiday.

“This is important for family time and refreshing personal and business goals,” Anna said.

This summer they plan to employ a Lincoln University student to ease the workload over summer.












Richard Laugesen would have loved a pivot irrigator but simply couldn’t make it fit to the rectangle shape of the river flats.

The Rotorainer was the best fit and was also well-suited to the low-pressure system.

Using a lengthened Rotorainer irrigator meant that earth works and tree removal on the Craiglochart flats have been minimal. Rocks needed to be removed only from a 4m strip down the middle of the block as this is all the space the irrigator requires to travel.

It is gravity fed from the dam (at 30 litres a second) with some boosting from a tractor-driven pump at times. The system can irrigate 8ha each day, applying 40mm over 24 hours.


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