Adam & Laura Cullen of Ararua Hills Farm


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2024 Northland Finalists: Adam & Laura Cullen of Ararua Hills Farm – Dairy

A strategic and deliberate farming approach that is based on science and monitoring is delivering tangible results at Ararua Hills Farm. 
Adam and Laura Cullen have been dairy farming at the 256ha property since 2008, purchasing it from Adam’s parents in 2016. Soil health and minimising environmental impact are at the forefront of their approach, with all decisions based on being efficient, profitable and – ultimately – carbon neutral. 
They run 420 cows across 220ha of effective land, with the remaining areas being retired and planted for carbon sequestration and biodiversity.  
They are achieving both financial and environmental targets thanks to their innovative and adaptable approach, resulting in them meeting their financial and environmental goals.  
The judges were impressed with their focus on soil health and cropping practices to improve quality and overall productivity. They produce an annual sustainability progress report to hold themselves accountable to business goals and values. 
Laura and Adam have made sound investments in stock and infrastructure, plus have a good understanding of how water flows through the farm. Productive land is enhanced with areas of native planting, including an impressive wetland restoration project. 
The judges commended the way Laura and Adam have combined scientific knowledge with an holistic approach to create a unique business model. When it comes to decisionmaking, they are flexible while also paying attention to detail. 
Driven by a strong work ethic, they work well as a team in a way that uses their respective strengths. Keen to free up time to spend with their young family, they strive for efficiencies within the business – for example, they have adopted a variable milking frequency of 11 milkings over seven days.   
Adam and Laura are leaning into the challenge of being carbon neutral, while also feeling grateful for the lifestyle they have created for themselves, their team and their family.  

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