15 February 2019
The Trotter family has farmed with pride over four generations on the doorstep of Matakana village.
Ian and Jo Trotter are the fourth generation on their dairy and dairy-beef home farm, which has been in Ian’s family since 1903. The passion and dedication of their forebears lives on in their day-to-day operation thanks to a well-managed succession plan.
The Trotters also own a 165ha runoff in Wellsford, in partnership with Ian’s parents, which complements the home dairy farm by providing silage and grazing for dairy heifers, along with rearing of 200 calves each year.
The inspiring bond that exists between the family - including Ian’s brothers who own the neighbouring dairy farms - is palpable. It has cultivated a knowledge sharing economy that enables each of the family’s constituents to thrive; they collegially share information and offer a helping hand to one another from time-to-time.
The judges were impressed by the intergenerational family knowledge of their land, soils and locality which has assisted in the maturation and success of this closed-system dairy farm milking 315 cows.
The innovative spirit prevalent in the Trotters’ work matches their knowledge and the judges noted the couple’s willingness to pursue better ways of doing things, particularly when it comes to the protection of their environment.
More than a decade ago, the farm made an important decision to fence off three significant remnant native bush blocks that are home to native freshwater fish, Kokopu, and native birds such as Kukupa. The Trotters have plans to expand these blocks and connect it with the nearby Significant Natural Area (SNA).
Further areas have been designated for fencing-off and a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) is underway. The Trotters are sensitive towards their location and its proximity to their local village, cognizant that local emotion would be strong should their waterways pollute downstream.
Ian’s horticultural background provides him with the instinct and education to make astute decisions when trialing and testing soils and pasture management. The farm has a no tillage and no pugging policy and takes cows off the paddock during heavy rains by utilising a wintering barn and calving pad.
Because it is located on heavy clay soils, the farm has adopted the McKinsey approach to soil testing and management which equates to healthy soils and therefore healthy animals. This approach focuses on micro-nutrients and results demonstrate a lower incidence of mastitis and very low metabolics. Additionally, the farm does not conduct any cropping on-site, which minimises impacts of sediment and nutrients on water quality and waterways.
Of their foray into the Ballance Farm Environment Awards this year the Trotters say, “For the four generations we have been here, we have been able to catch freshwater crayfish and brown trout from our nearest waterway which is testament to our preservation of these habitats, their water quality and their freshwater species.
“We are pretty excited about being finalists which shows our hard work is paying off. We have enjoyed the process and encourage others to enter - you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be willing to learn.”
Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award