NZ Dairy Spring 2021

| 43 nz dairy DAIRY PEOPLE » John Glasson Droughts prove biggest challenge Hugh de Lacy J ust getting milk out of his cows during the drought-prone northern summer is the biggest challenge facing veteran dairy farmer John Glasson on his home farm and run-off near Helens- ville, at the southern end of Northland’s Kaipara Harbour. John runs 120 cows, plus replacements and some dry stock, on 54ha of peaty flats, including 18ha of typical swampy Northland hills, supported by a similar 65ha run-off that he acquired three years ago. John, who’s 77, has been on the farm for over half a century, returning home in 1970 from work- ing off-farm to help his father, also called John Glasson, on the farm the latter had bought six years earlier. The younger Glasson took over the property in 1980, with the memory of the disastrous droughts of 1974 and 1975 still fresh in his memory. And the droughts, including last summer’s, continue to hit the region which otherwise has an average 1200mm annual rainfall. “We now only get a couple of frosts a year, and the kikuyu can grow through the winter,” John says. “Over the last 30 years we’ve had only a couple of frosts each winter, though this year we got six in a row. “If you think in terms of 1805 being the last year that the River Thames in England froze over, it’s clear the world has been warmer for the past 216 years.” However John doesn’t have much confidence in the current scramble to reduce global warming, which he believes is caused by the cycles of the sun. “As long as you’ve got India, China and most of Asia producing electricity by coal-fired power sta- tions, the measures the Western world is trying to put in place aren’t going to work anyway,” he says. “Since the last Ice Age, conditions have been very conducive to the human race multiplying at the same time as we’re raising our standard of living, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without our reliance on coal, oil and gas. “To try and control the climate is ridiculous: the sun does that. “Hopefully the climate behaviours we used to see will return, but in the meantime the issue for us is getting water onto the land.” The big problem is water availability, John says, with about 90% of the rain that falls on the country ending up running out to sea – and he doesn’t see the Government’s planned Three Waters strategy doing much to improve that situation either. “A lot of water is going to waste, and we’ve got a grab on by the Government under Three Waters to control water and have everybody levied for their use of it,” John says. “Politically we’re being pushed into central control of everything by the Government in Wellington, where we all get told what to eat and drink and do – even what time we get up. “Instead of being dragged down that path, we should just get on with life, and make the most of it before another stray meteorite deals to us,” John says. Changes quickly in three weeks as the Northland dry kicks in (top). Herd grazing in summer (above). P.G. Smith Ltd. TOPDRESSING  Topdressing  Orchard Spreading  Fertiliser & Lime Proud to be associated with John Glasson Helensville - 09 420 7079 Caleb Jackson Contracting Caleb t Rural Business specialising in: • Round Hay & Silage Bales • Conventional Hay Bales • Full Paddock Renovation • Re-grassing • Fencing • Other Ag Services l i i li i i : CalebJacksonContracting 027 252 5526 il il. om l i ww engineers | surveyors | planners 1180 Amohia Street, Rotorua 3010 Ph: +64 7 349 8470 Proudly supporting the rural community since 1940. Specialising in: • Boundary Adjustments • Lifestyle site subdivision • Water takes • (IÁXHQW GLVSRVDO FRQVHQWV • Earthworks, Quarrying & mining Consents • Land Use & development advice • Drone Surveys • Land use capability Assessments