Wednesday, 3 October 2012


On the 2nd, I drove to the 22000ha farm that has been bought by a group of NZ investors, Manuka. It is a very impressive operation. The property is in the process of being re developed, all around the model of 200ha farms, each running 600 cows. This way, labour can be kept simple, and the infrastructure cost minimised, utilising 40 a side herringbone sheds. It is not common to see a project this size without rotary platforms. By 2019 they plan to run 45000 cows, and will require around 4000ha of country to run dry stock.
My first comment to Chris White, the development manager, was " if God was a dairy farmer he would probably live around here somewhere ". It must be nearly as good as it gets, a large, gently undulating out wash plain, 1800mm rainfall, soft, dark brown soils with organic matter levels up to 20% ( note not organic carbon ), rivers on two sides, and a view over Lago Rupanco to the snow capped volcanic cones of the Andes. If it sounds good, it's because it is!! Not surprisingly, the land is not as cheap as it once was, bringing $ 8-10000 Au per Ha.
Interestingly, the pH tends to be low, and lime is expensive. I calculated it to be over 6 times what we pay at home, cart and spread. Theirs is just a delivered price, until recently, in 50kg bags. Now it can be sourced in 1 tonne bags, still not bulk. Fertiliser comes in sacks as well.

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