NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

4 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Barwell Farm Post-floods, family farm legacy in good shape Mark, Stacey and TJ in the barn (top). Photo: Dianne Malcolm. Mark and Stacey (below) with children James (3) Paige (11) & Olivia (8) and Maree & David. Kim Newth On the side of a track at Barwell Farm, Greenstreet - just west of Ashburton - stand five young trees, planted last year to represent the past, the present and the future. Having weathered damaging floods last May, this 200ha family dairy farm is in good shape and taking a long-term view. Each tree has special significance: one is for Rod and Daphne Stewart who bought the farm in 1955 as a sheep and cropping operation, before converting to dairy in the early 1980s. Another is for their son David and his wife Maree, who took over the reins in 1991. David and Maree began succession planning five years ago, with this being the first season of the land being leased to their sons TJ and Mark Stewart, along with Mark’s wife Stacey, who grew up in rural Tasmania and has a dairy background. The third tree is for them, while the fourth is for the next generation that includes Mark and Stacey’s children, Paige, 11, Olivia, 8, and James, 3. The final tree represents a fifth generation of Stewarts that may one day farm here too. It is a strong statement, considering the heavy impact from last year’s flooding event here. Yet TJ, Mark and Stacey have made remarkable progress towards recovery in just a matter of months. “We’re actually up on production, which has blown us away and we’re hoping to increase winter milk production going forward,” says Stacey. Situated between the north and south banks of the Ashburton River, Barwell Farm and its 530-cow herd took a real pummeling in the floods. It was thought 14.5ha had been lost forever beneath riverbed rubble and a big cleanup lay ahead to clear another 20ha. “It was very hard, but fortunately we had a lot of outside support, help and guidance to help us work our way through it. Looking at the farm today, we can’t quite believe how far we’ve come. We were able to save around 9.5ha of land we thought was lost and have planted some of it in kale and rape. The other 20 hectares has been regrassed and is back to normal.” The wintering barn that David and Maree built in 2014 was very helpful after the floods, put to use as a safe place to continue feeding cows for longer, giving time for pastures to recover. Currently, the farm does 50/50 split calving in spring and autumn but is moving towards 30 spring/70 autumn to continue making best use of the barn. Another legacy of David and Maree’s stewardship is the farm’s rotary 50-bale shed, built in 2004. Advances in irrigation have supported the growth of this family dairy operation through the years, with 1970s border dyke irrigation updated with RotoRainers in the 1990s. Two years ago, pivot irrigation was established over 100ha. Riparian planting lost to last year’s floods is rapidly being restored. Under Synlait’s Lead with Pride programme, new plants were put in along 2km of waterways last year with more planting planned for the coming three years. David and Maree use Adam George Fencing to keep everything in order. Beside the farm track, five special trees are growing steadily stronger, symbolizing this family’s tenacity and commitment to the land. AdamGeorge Fencing 021 1039095 Rural • Urban • StockYards • Sheds • Lifestyle • Maintenance Proud to be a long term nutrient partner for Barwell Farm