2023 Finalists: Josh Millard of Tongariro Dairy Unit – Pāmu – Dairy
This Manawatu dairy unit is approaching a major milestone, with the 2022/2023 season marking its first year of conversion since it transitioned to producing organic milk.
Farm manager Josh Millard has been running Pāmu Tongariro Dairy Unit for the past four and a half years, working alongside his 2IC Jai Spalding. They see themselves as caretakers which drives them to make continual improvements to the 207ha effective property.
Pāmu is a State-Owned Enterprise with a nationwide portfolio of farms that produce mainly milk, beef, lamb, wool, venison and wood. Converting the Tongariro dairy unit to organic is a key part of the enterprise’s strategy. Tongariro is one of seven farms in their Moutoa complex, with most of them either fully converted or in the process of being transitioned.
At Tongariro, part of Josh’s plan was to move away from feeding cows traditional rye grass and move towards a fescue mix that is more tolerant to seasonal weather changes.
The transition taught the team that it’s best to take a proactive farming approach that – while sometimes challenging – saves time and resource in the long run.
Pāmu Tongariro Dairy Unit is working toward a goal of feeding cows grass year-round with some home-grown maize to maintain cow condition. To do this part of the organic transition was to reduce the stocking rate that has already dropped from 650 to 450 cows. It’s a work in progress, with wet months creating a pinch period for available feed.
While Josh and his team have reached a milestone, they acknowledge there is still plenty of work to be done as they strive to prioritise animal health and firmly establish crops using organic farming practices.
Josh enjoys what Tongariro has to offer and regards it as his playground, but he is firm in his commitment to protect it for future generations – and that means taking care of the environment.
Josh is the winner of the NZFET Climate Recognition Award.
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards