2023 Finalists: Tim and Lucie Gilbertson of Waitukai Farm – Sheep, Beef and Goats
At this sheep, cattle and goat breeding farm, Tim and Lucie Gilbertson are guided by a commercially focused strategy that is balanced with caring for the environment.
Across the 492ha (475ha effective) Waitukai Farm, the couple winters about 2,000 ewes, 120 cows and 300 goats for mohair. Diversifying the business has boosted its resilience, with additional income derived from off-farm rental properties. Lucerne, plantain and rape are grown across 45ha of flat land.
When purchased in 1987, the farm was prone to sediment and phosphate loss, and there has been a strong focus on turning this around. This has included fencing and planting vulnerable areas, an extensive tree planting programme, and completing a network of dams and swales for flood control.
The swales are also critical when it comes to improving water quality. This focus on water extends to improving how it is stored and circulated around the property – including the installation of a reticulated stock water network.
Protecting and enhancing soil is a top priority for Tim and Lucie and their approach is paying off, with no pugging occurring during periods of heavy rain.
Solar power, using an electric farm bike and careful waste management reflects the couple’s commitment to reducing their environmental footprint. In addition, hill country on the property is regeneratively farmed with a relatively low stocking rate.
Wetlands have been established, complemented by an active predator and weed control programme. This has significantly boosted the number of birds and wildlife at Waitukai.
There has been significant investment in the farm’s infrastructure, stock and plant. This focus on continuous on-farm improvement is balanced by a strong connection with the local community.
Tim and Lucie plan to continue their careful financial management and succession planning to ensure Waitukai is successful and sustainable into the future.
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards