15 February 2019
Ian and Kylie Brown have big dreams and their impressive discipline is making them a reality. Their goal for their multi-faceted business Cheltenham Downs - operated as part of Pāmu, Farms of New Zealand (formerly Landcorp) - is to create a “farm of the future for people, animals and the environment”.
The Browns have farmed Cheltenham Downs since 2011, and while the major production focus of the farm is lamb finishing, annual crops of malting barley and maize silage are used in a pasture renewal programme.
In the 2017- 2018 year, the farm finished close to 23,918 lambs, 772 2y steers and grazed approximately 600 dairy heifers, 400 dairy cows and dairy bulls. Crops grown were 78ha of maize silage and 88ha of malting barley.
As part of the Browns’ commitment to lowering the farm’s environmental footprint, all blocks on Cheltenham Downs have a detailed Land Environment Plan directing the careful management of soil and water resources - a commitment the judges were impressed by. Erosion control has resulted in 68ha being planted in pines and 26ha of riparian protection, which is fenced for stock exclusion and replanted in natives. A current project is re-establishing shelter trees (belts) for stock shade. The farm has a total of 53ha of native bush with 14ha already in QEII reserves.
All stock liveweight milestones and goal weights are measured and recorded to evaluate feed supply, animal breeding worth and product quality, which speaks to the Browns prioritisation of animal welfare.
Key performance indicators (e.g. EBITR and carcass wt/ha) are all well-above average for the intensive finishing farm and are targeted to exceed those of the top 20% of finishing farms in the Manawatu/Taranaki region.
Of their experience entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards the Browns say, “It has been a good learning experience over the last seven years to get to this point since we took over this farm. It has been like converting a farm and starting from scratch. We thought it was the right time for us to enter to reflect on all of this work. It’s great to be a finalist and we are excited to see where to from here.”
Awards Won 2019
Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award
Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award
Massey University Innovation Award
Waterforce Integrated Management Award