Organic NZ

Back to the future Smooth transition to organic dairy

The Herricks have recently completed their first season as a fully certified organic supplier to Fonterra at Kowhai Bush Organics, a 150-hectare farm on river flats and terraces east of Carterton. Known as Taumata, this area bounded by the Ruamāhanga and Waiohine Rivers has long been dairying country, with an average annual rainfall of around 800 mm, and silt loam and clay soils.

CONTRAST BETWEEN ‘CONVENTIONAL’ AND ORGANIC

Ben and Karen, previously sharemilkers, bought the farm from Ben’s parents 12 years ago intending to continue with a conventional system: relatively high stocking rates; irrigated ryegrass-clover pastures with fairly heavy applications of urea and superphosphate; and antibiotics constantly at the ready to treat infections.

Now they milk fewer cows once a day, treat any signs of mastitis with homoeopathic remedies and grow all their own supplementary feed organically on Kowhai Bush’s 54-hectare run-off. Ben and Karen have long given up chemical pesticides and herbicides, and they pay attention to

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