15 February 2019
Garrickfield Farm, an arable and horticultural operation, has a distinctive and endearing energy. This owes to the fact it has been gently handed down through succeeding generations, with each proudly assuming responsibility for its environmental, social and economic wellbeing.
Today, it is Malcolm and Kate Cairns at the helm supported by Malcolm’s Dad, 86, and Mum, 78. Malcolm credits his parents for their sound judgement and fundamental appreciation of what it takes to create an intergenerational business.
Living with their four children in the original family home on the property, the Cairns display a genuine love of the land and a gratitude and obligation to Malcolm’s forebears who worked the land before them.
Predominantly focused on a large variety of seed production, with 4000 lambs complementing the system at particular times of the year, the Cairns’ specialist small seed crops include clover, ryegrass, brome grass, vegetable brassicas and cereals. Vining peas, barley and milling wheat are also grown within the crop rotation. Twelve varieties of seed potato, grown between the home block and leased ground, are on a 10-year rotation.
The judges commended Malcolm’s recognition of the great value of irrigation, and his strong sense of responsibility to ensure that water on-farm is used efficiently and sustainably with minimal environmental impact.
The Cairns’ sensitivity to the environment has extended to other key initiatives including the introduction of natives to suit bees on the farm; native shelterbelts; recycling of plastic waste, and minimisation of deep ploughing with a preference for non-inversion tillage. Some ryegrass seed paddocks have been down for more than 18 months to help build soil organic matter and improve soil structure.
Fully focused on creating a diverse, profitable business that is adaptable, resilient and capable of thriving in the future, Malcolm says of the couple’s decision to enter the awards, “We have a desire to tell our story as a representative of the arable and horticultural industries. It’s important to get positive stories across about the diversity of land use involved with irrigated agriculture.
“It’s about putting your head above the parapet to help get the message across. The awards have traction and profile with a wider audience, so this is a good way of doing that.”
Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award