28 | RURAL PEOPLE » Aratiatia Station: Mark Cunningham Pasture control central to intensive operation Kim Newth A ratiatia Station, a Pamu property just north of Taupo, is an intensive, technically based farm with a strong focus on pasture utilisation and pasture control. Farm manager Mark Cunningham has been at helm for nearly 20 years, managing changes and developments through the seasons. There has been plenty of evolution on this 3897 hectare station (1969ha effective) in recent years, with big invest- ments in pasture development and control and with dairy support now part of the equation. Today, the station has a predominantly Romney flock of around 1500 ewes, with fine wool breeding a growing objective. A couple of hundred beef cows are run alongside the flock. Some 2500-2600 dairy calf heifers enter the stock mix in early December, with contracts running from December to May for weaning dairy calves, and May to May. Every year, the station also has approximately 300 cross bred heifer calves coming in, traded locally or sold on the store market, plus the station brings in around 2500 winter cows. Deer are part of the picture too, with deer finishing having ceased recently in favour of developing a small milking herd. Aratiatia Station, known as the first farm on the Waikato River, is a summer dry property but the country has easy contours that open up good options. “It certainly gives us some triggers we can pull … this season we sold 2200 tonnes of dry matter into the dairy industry not including the lucerne; there was such a lot of grass. We’ve also got 100 hectares of lucerne in our second year of organic certification – nine tonnes were taken off that and we have had to graze the final cut.” Grazing is carefully managed within production units. Large 6.5 hectare paddocks have been split into 2.3 to 3 hectare cells using polywire and fibre- glass poles. Staff each have their own farm block to manage and every member of the team has a spreadsheet set up on Google Drive with the shifts that need to be done on their block. “So if someone calls in sick, we can look up their spreadsheet and see what needs to be done.” Blocks range in size, with the more technically demanding blocks generally being smaller. • to page 29 “It certainly gives us some triggers we can pull … this season we sold 2200 tonnes of dry matter into the dairy industry not including the lucerne; there was such a lot of grass. We’ve also got 100 hectares of lucerne in our second year of organic certification – nine tonnes were taken off that and we have had to graze the final cut.” - Grass Silage - Maize Silage - Cereal Silage - All Cultivation - Direct Drilling - Round & Square Silage - Round & Square Hay - Mulching - Precision Planting - Maize & Fodder beet - Supply & deliver supplement - Supply & deliver animal bedding Office: 07 333 1506 Andrew: 027 490 9417 Clint: 027 284 9875 For all your agricultural requirements 126 Rakaunui Rd, Taupo, PO Box 547, Taupo O ice: 07 377 0868 Email: o firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 027 488 0621 www.waterservicesnz.co.nz • Water Meter Installation/Verification • Effluent Systems • Water Reserviors • Trenching • Deepwell & Submersible Lifts • Domestic & Commercial Pumps • GPS mapping • Pipes & Fittings Supply (concrete, steel, PVC, Poluthene all grades) Proudly Supplying Quality Shearing Services to landcorp , formerly Lands & Survey, for 52 years We support all that is best in shearing Dairy support is part of the bigger picture at Pamu’s Aratiatia station near Taupo. Lambing at Aratiatia – the station runs a predominantly Romney flock of around 1500 ewes.