15 February 2019
The concept of ‘team effort’ has been given a new lease of life through TSM Farms. This passionate business is a cross-section of talents contributed by three local families - Tulloch, Searle and Marfell - each part of an equity partnership.
The Tullochs own the two dairy farms and one sheep and beef farm that make up the partnership. The sheep and beef farm grows the dairy farm’s young stock and supplements are made on three support blocks leasing a total of 280ha.
At the well-presented dairy farm, Simon Searle has set the tone for a relaxed but resilient and hardworking work environment. Technology and team go hand-in-hand.
With one of the best staff retention rates in the Wairarapa at the dairy farm, it is clear Simon has created something special. There is a distinct vision and set of goals for each element of the business and these unify the entire team and give them common belief and incentive.
The milking shed is a well-organised 50-bail rotary with an in-shed feeding system to help when grass is under pressure. Additionally, the system helps to add supplements to the cow’s diet, achieving more balanced nutrition. The milking shed incorporates technology to monitor vat temperatures and milk analysis. This innovation, coupled with Simon’s strong animal husbandry skills, results in well cared for and healthy cows.
Simon believes 750 cows is the ideal number for this farm and its system and prefers larger Holstein Friesian cows. The judges were impressed by the passion he has for his cows and the selection process the team works towards to obtain their ‘ideal’ cows.
Environmentally, there are a number of initiatives on-farm designed to improve efficiency and sustainability. Under consent, the farm has centre pivot irrigators that irrigate directly from the Waingawa River running along the farm boundary, and stock and shed water come from an on-farm bore.
On-farm, the soil type is predominantly clay, with a small area of stony ridge near the river end of the platform. The clay soils require Simon to be vigilant during the winter months to avoid pugging. There is good drainage around most paddocks to help direct excess water and remove it as quick as possible from the paddocks, and the farm carries out regular soil fertility tests to determine fertiliser requirements. There are harvest electronics soil probes to help monitor soil temperatures, wind direction and speed, to achieve better utilisation of irrigated water.
Of entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards Simon says, “It is not about the idea of awards for me; it is the feedback and learning that counts. I would say to others considering entry that it’s not as daunting as you think it might be and there is knowledge to be gained.”
Awards Won 2019
Waterforce Integrated Management Award