Moving from the Netherlands in 1990, Abe and Anita de Wolde were the Southland Regional Supreme Winners for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards back in 2013. A lot has changed for these dairy conversion pioneers over the past decade including the size and structure of their dairy operation.
Back in 2013, the de Wolde’s milked 2,800 cows across three farms along with an equity partnership. “Since then we have bought out our equity partners, started off a new dairy farm which was converted from sheep farms and took on a lease on a 380Ha dairy support block,” said Abe. “We currently milk approximately 4200 cows, producing about 2.3 million kg of milksolids and are fully self-sustained. We winter all our stock ourselves, grow our own silage and raise all our young stock.”
The couple’s business, Woldwide Dairy Group, takes a values based approach around the core elements of people, planet and profit. Abe and Anita believe that any farming practice undertaken in their organisation should be socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. Growing substantially over the years, Woldwide now comprises 6 farms, Woldwide One to Five and Woldwide Run-Off where they raise all their young stock. To support this thriving business, they have built an office, employed a compliance manager, an HR manager and an office manager and have built two freestall barns on their newest farm, and are in the process of building two barns on the former equity partnership farm.
Interesting developments that Abe and Anita see for dairy in Southland is the change away from winter cropping towards baleage and grass, or indoor wintering. They have freestall barns which they are happy with and are still convinced that they allow for very sustainable farming methods.
“Our newest barns have been designed for cows calving inside, in a straw area. The manure is stored in an Ecobag (a fully closed bag), rather than a pond which eliminates volatilisation and improves nitrogen efficiency.”
The biggest challenges they see for the coming years are the increased complexity through environmental regulations particularly regarding greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen and phosphorus loss, animal welfare standards including the treatment of bobby calves. They also recognise that New Zealand is not insulated from the rest of the world and is subject to global consumer demands.
In five years’ time Abe and Anita intend to still be dairy farming possibly with some horizontal integration with trees, bulls, and forestry.
“It is hard to say in today’s crazy world however, but we will just continue to roll with the punches.”
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards