NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

54 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Dinuka & Nadeeka Gamage Sharemilking next step on road to own farm Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage with sons Anu Gamage (16) and Thejan Gamage (11). Karen Phelps Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage have their sights firmly set on farm ownership. And the next step towards their goal is 50:50 sharemilking. They are presently busy building up stock numbers by buying cows and rearing calves each year. As the 2021 winners of the Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards they are also busy fulfilling their role as the category team leaders. They say the competition has been a great opportunity for networking for them and they are excited to help the next bunch of candidates who have entered this year. The pandemic has meant a challenging year farming for the couple, mainly around staffing. They employ three full time staff and their focus on looking after their people (they have twice won the leadership award at the Share Farmer of the Year competition) has seen them retain great employees. They also rely on part-time staff over calving and with the borders closed this proved more difficult than normal. They eventually managed to fill the roles but Nadeeka, in particular, had to increase her workload this year to fill in the gaps. Dinuka says they will continue to support their staff in any way they can. It creates a win-win situation. “We need to not only target our goals but also the goals of our staff. We need to identify their objectives and help them to achieve them. For example, one of our staff wants to buy a house so we are assisting with financial advice and support to help them do this.” The Ashburton couple are in their sixth season contract milking 950 crossbreed cows on a 245ha farm owned by Dairy Holdings Ltd. They operate a pasture-based system with no supplement used. Pasture is a major focus for them with weekly farm walks and re-grassing 10% each year. Extending their effluent area from 50ha to 70ha last year has reduced their reliance on urea and they have also double fenced waterways. They plan to cull empties early this season so they can keep milking the rest of the herd longer to make the most of their grass. Dinuka holds New Zealand diplomas in agribusiness management and also a national diploma in technology agriculture engineering and post-graduate diploma in marketing from Sri Lanka. He has also achieved PrimaryITO Level 5 Production Management and Level 4 Dairy Farming and Biz Start from DairyNZ. Nadeeka holds the NZ Certificate in ECCE. This financial nous sees the focus firmly on production per hectare – rather than per cow production – and keeping costs to a minimum. Dinuka is from Ampara, the eastern part of Sri Lanka, where he worked on dairy farms for two years before seeking his fortune in New Zealand in 2008. Starting on an 800-cow farm in Kaikoura in an assistant herd manager position, a year later he moved to a position as farm manager on unit at Culverden milking a herd of 970 predominantly Friesian cows. He spent seven seasons on the unit before moving to the Dairy Holdings farm. Dinuka and Nadeeka have two children: Anuhas, 16 and Thejan, 11. Agriculture is a true passion. Dinuka says that they both love working outside with animals and nature and they are dedicated to growing a successful farming business for their family. Dinuka & Nadeeka Gamage