NZ Dairy Winter 2022

78 | nzdairy Overseeing large Richard Loader Chief Executive at Hauraki Plains Iwi owned farming collective, Jenna Smith, says she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than where she is, overseeing the activity of 11 farming businesses, 9 dairy,1 dry-stock unit and a Blueberry Orchard. She has been in her role since 2019 at a time when, post purchase, the farming business was transitioning from a sharemilking agreement with Landcorp to full Iwi ownership and management. Prior to stepping into the role Jenna had been a regional agribusiness manager for MyFarm and then working as a consultant for overseas investment farming syndicates. That situation, she says, could be no further from her reality now, than one could imagine. “I work for and with a Board representing the Iwi owners. As such, they are custodians of this land for their people and the way they value land is not solely weighted on pro t and production, it’s about sustaining this precious resource for future generations,” Jenna explains. Her role, on a day to day basis is about ‘coordinating the chaos’, as Jenna describes it. A team of four report directly to her from a group of managers across various aspects of operation which employs around 45 staff. Currently a cash- ow only entity, the business carries no debt, placing additional responsibility on making the right decisions about where to invest in upgrading and developing the substantial block of land. The dairy units cover 1665ha and range in size from a 200 cow 74ha to an 850 cow, 300ha farm. “Mainly the farms average around 580-600 cows and each one works independently. We also have a cropping block which provides feed and run-off space to support all the farms.” Jenna says governance and management alike are very conscious of the staff and want to provide them with the best possible working conditions, so that they can work as ef ciently as possible. “There are de nitely ef ciency gains to be had and since we have been here we have gained at a good rate of knots.” The businesses motto of ‘Healthier Food for a Good Life’, leaves the future open to engage in other farming methodologies. If a farm, for instance, isn’t performing well, then the Board and management will be open to using it for other purposes. Some land has also been retired for planting and regenerative peatlands. Aminiasi and Vagulus milking on Farm J. DAIRY PEOPLE » Pouarua Dairy Unit Farm J, currently home to 850 cows, is the largest milking platform. Jenna says that when they took over from Landcorp the interesting thing was that they could see immediate gains in ef ciency by lowering the stocking rate. “Large farms are harder to ne-tune. There are a lot of moving parts but we have increased productivity by 44% per hectare and 33% per cow.” On J-Block the operation has shifted to a complete no bobby system. All cows are inseminated with Wagyu semen and a supply agreement with First Light Farms sees the progeny sold at varying ages. All calves are reared at Pouarua Farms rearing facility, approximately half are sold as weaners and the rest are nished on the farms dry-stock block. All ex collars have also been attached to Farm J’s herd. Jenna says this was a prudent decision, given the technology provides valuable data in real time and reports on issues sooner than would necessarily occur with human observation and intervention. “The collars are primarily for mating which is one of our key areas of productive gain. The collars alert when cows are in-heat and get automatically drafted for insemination. They also pick up lower rumination and lower movement of the animals; subtle changes that allow us to intervene if necessary as soon as an issue is detected.” Operating a large-scale dairy operation over peat soil also brings its fair share of challenges. The movement of the peat depending on whether it is saturated or dry impacts on the paddocks terrain. All the cow-sheds sit on 12 - 14m piles, a signi - cant investment. “For the past three years we haven’t had more than 700ml of rain which creates further shrinkage and puts the pasture under stress.” Extensive planting in a number of native species, including ax, kanuka and manuka is transforming the look of the farm’s overall footprint. A contract exists with honey producer Comvita to house beehives. Being named a nalist in the Ahuwhenua Awards 2021 realised an ambition by the owners, to showcase the myriad of activities being promoted on the land, the philosophy that underpins Pouarua Farms’ operation and to benchmark its achievements to date. “It has always been a massive ambition for the owners. Our former Chairman, Hon. John Luxton, who has recently passed away, encouraged us to give the awards a go. It gave us an opportunity to take stock of what we have achieved in a very short space of time.” “I work for and with a Board representing the Iwi owners. As such, they are custodians of this land for their people and the way they value land is not solely weighted on pro t and production, it’s about sustaining this precious resource for future generations.” Proud to be the chosen Electrician for Pouarua Dairy 07 867 7049 29 Orchard West Rd, Ngatea Proud supporters of POUARUA FARMS Helping grow the country Contact us for all your livestock requirements | 0800 10 22 76