James & Debbie, and Dave & Jan Stewart of Stewart Dairylands


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2024 Horizons Finalists: James & Debbie, and Dave & Jan Stewart of Stewart Dairylands – Dairy

The family behind this Palmerston North dairy farm listen to the land, meaning its use and protection are priorities, while they still operate a profitable business. 
Stewart Dairylands was established in 1999, however five generations of Stewarts have farmed and expanded the legacy business that was started in 1886. 
Today, James, Debbie, Dave and Jan Stewart are the driving force behind Stewart Dairylands which is one of three companies in the Stewart Group. Their farm is the dairy division, hosting 800 cows across 580ha (560ha effective). 
They see the land as a precious canvas that the family should continue treating carefully so it’s in a better shape for the next generation.  
Exploring opportunities for diversification is part of the business strategy, with it including value streams from dairy beef, plus supplying milk for both boutique cheese and ice cream. In partnership, they also offer farm tours. 
They derive 90% of their income from the 350ha milking platform, aiming for 360,000 milk solids annually while simultaneously reducing stocking rates in recent years. Land use is carefully tailored so it’s protected while providing for a profitable business. 
Technology guides decision-making, and is used to solve problems, off-set environmental impacts and drive efficiency. This combines with a focus on animal health for example, cow collars are used to monitor stock and detect health issues early, and the genetically strong herd is regularly tested.  
The judges were impressed with well-planned infrastructure developments, including a new dairy shed featuring solar panels, and a modern effluent system with a separator.  
Native plants enhance the natural environment, including the development of native corridors with walkways and a wetland area – all of which are shared with visitors and the wider community. 
The Stewarts are guided by a strong sense of family history as they continue what was started, for future generations to benefit from and enjoy.  

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