NZ Dairy Spring 2021

56 | nz dairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Scott & Susan Narbey Production and environment a fine balance Kim Newth B ig on-farm investments over the past decade are paying off for Helensville dairy farmers Scott and Sue Narbey, whose long term inter- generational view continues to shape their family farm operation. The couple are passionate about sharing the positives of what can be achieved in dairying. After being named Auckland’s 2017 Supreme Award in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they opened the farm gate to give Aucklanders an op- portunity to visit a working dairy farm. “We found people were really impressed by the complexities that go into making day to day decisions,” says Sue. “We had Fonterra here with a tanker and an Auckland Council representative too so they got a really good overview.” Scott and Sue, with their children, Bella, 11 and Ollie, 9, live on a 145ha home dairy farm just south of Helensville. Scott is a fourth generation farmer on this land, which was originally cleared by his great grandfather Thomas. Today, the business also in- cludes a 90ha run-off at South Head, Kaipara where Scott’s parents Murray and Marie live. “Dad helps look after that farm and still comes in a couple of times a week,” says Scott, who adds that he and Sue farm in partnership with his parents. Completing the operation is an 80ha lease block at Waitoki used for growing maize, as a beef block and to rear young stock. “We rear all our replace- ments and beef cattle apart from Friesian bulls that we sell to local beef farmers.” Sue is busy running the couple’s Helensville physiotherapy business but at this time of year is also busy helping out when she can in the calf shed and on the home farm. At the time of interview, dur- ing the latest Covid lockdown, Bella and Ollie were finding plenty to do on-farm too. “They come down to the calf shed every morning – they’re really keen and learning great life skills,” says Sue. The Narbeys run a 410-cow System 4 operation that has achieved good efficiency gains thanks to proactive investment in recent years to install a modern 44-bale rotary cowshed with automation features; smart water use systems; and a feed pad and calving pad to mitigate pugging and improve management of calving. All drains, ponds and the boundary with the Kaiapara River have been fenced off to exclude stock and marginal areas are being progressively retired into wetlands, supported by an active plant- ing strategy. “We’re into our fourth round of planting with Trees for Survival (an environmental charitable trust); we’re working in partnership with Auckland Council, Rotary and Waikowhai Intermediate School, located in Mt Roskill Auckland. We have students here every year and plant out 800 to 1000 natives in wetland areas each planting day. We also have a connection with Kaipara Col- lege and have done planting with them as well.” Sue says they like to make it a fun and educa- tional experience for students. “We have a really good relationship with both these schools now.” The Narbeys are keen to support progression in the industry. Contract milking with them for the second season are Alex Sainty and Sam Carr, who recently started their own family and have, in turn, employed an assistant milker in her first full-time dairy farming role. Sue and Scott hope their own children may consider a life on this land in future too. They deeply appreciate all the hard work put in by previous generations. “We also want to be able to leave this farm in a good position by making sure it’s viable and sustainable.” Meanwhile, a good winter means the farm is in a solid position with calving having gone well. “We have students here every year and plant out 800 to 1000 natives in wetland areas each planting day.” Trees for Survival Planting day 2021 in the Narbey’s wetland riparian area, adjacent to the Kaipara River. Helping your farmor business go further We can assist with: All types of farm& contractor accounting Subdivisions • Trusts and Estates Succession planning • Business advisory & strategy 09 425 8599 | | Servicing from Helensville to the Cape. Westfalia and Milfos Parts and Servicing 021569661 Garry Wilson Proud Service Partner of