Dave Read and Judy Bogaard have been farming Waiau Station near Frasertown in northern Hawke’s Bay since 1996.
The 1213ha property is steep – mainly class six and seven – East Coast hill country. It is run in conjunction with the 592ha Allington Farm at Kotemaori, which finishes a lot of Waiau’s progeny. Together, the business is a breeding and finishing operation with significant store stock sales only in dry years.
Dave describes their sheep and cattle breeding as fruit salad – he is breeding his own bare breech, low input sheep (no docking, fewer dags) and his cows are bred for parasite resilience.
The business has 4450 ewes, 1100 hoggets (mated), 590 cows and 170 replacement heifers.
The farm has a 20ha QEII National Trust covenant as well as 38ha of fenced bush, 15ha of wood lots, 20ha of regenerating manuka utilised by a local beekeeper and 120ha of unfenced bush with kanuka and tauhinu. The latter is encouraged on steep sunny faces: the aim is to have shade in all paddocks, Dave says. The farm also has about 4000 willows and poplars used for erosion control, shade and shelter, and fodder when needed.
Dave says he laughs when he sees other farmers planting up their rough corners that are like his best country. But the Awards judges said Dave has built a farming system based on sustainability. “He has cleverly analysed their resources and worked out how to maximise them within the constraints of maintaining an environmentally friendly, low-input system.”
The business has a three-year average economic farm surplus of $306 per hectare, significantly above the mean of $132 per hectare as benchmarked in the B+LNZ Economic Farm Service N.I. Hard Hill Country East Coast model.
Judy runs a school library in Wairoa. She’s also a keen producer of homegrown fruit and vegetables – the farm is self-sufficient in fruit all year round.
There are three staff at Waiau Station and the manager at Allington also has several part-time workers. “We’ve always had a philosophy of hiring plenty of labour. This isn’t an easy place to lure workers so a key thing is retention,” Dave says.
“We operate a complex system so we want people to stay for as long as possible so they get to know the place. The nature of farming is a yearly cycle so you need to get a few cycles under your belt before you see how things work.”
The Awards judges said Dave was a great ambassador for New Zealand agriculture. “He makes a significant investment of his own time into research, writing articles and advocating agriculture through climate change policies and
Awards Won 2019
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award
Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award
Massey University Innovation Award
East Coast Farming for the Future Award
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards