Great Farming Stories

Great Farming Stories / Great Farming Stories

Palliser Ridge - Jim & Marilyn Law and Kurt & Lisa Portas

15 February 2019

Palliser Ridge - Jim & Marilyn Law and Kurt & Lisa Portas

The expressions ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and ‘there’s no place quite like home’ are befitting of Jim Law’s professional journey.

The dedicated farmer has always held Aotearoa close to his heart and came back to New Zealand after working globally for Mobil. Today, Jim and wife Marilyn own and operate Palliser Ridge, a 1320ha (1150ha effective) sheep and beef farm comprised of purchased and leased land.

The farm team includes farm manager Kurt Portas and his wife Lisa, part shareholders, who are dedicated to helping the business thrive.
Kurt and Lisa Portas say that their Regional Supreme Win at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards left the team feeling “absolutely blown away.”
“There was some stiff competition in our region, and we were really proud that some of the learnings we took away from us entering five years ago have paid off.”

The total Palliser Ridge property runs over 12,800SU at 11 SU/ha. This includes 3500 breeding ewes, 2000 in-lamb hoggets and trade cattle. About 10,000 lambs are sold on as stores - 5000 are produced on farm, and 700 steer calves are purchased at 150kg and sold after two years at 600kg.

A diverse entity, Palliser Ridge also sells 10 tonnes of lambs’ wool and 20 tonnes of ewes’ wool each year, runs an off-grid retreat and on-farm tour enterprise and creates and markets its own honey, lambs’ wool and hand-knitted clothing products used to demonstrate the wonders of wool.

Committed to enhancing the environment/biodiversity; ensuring excellent animal health and welfare; empowering and motivating their workforce; and maintaining tidy and efficient infrastructure, the Laws impressed the judges with their drive to go the extra mile. Their energy reverberates throughout the business, from their effectively marketed products to the genuine, memorable tourism experiences they create, both managed by Lisa.

While the business’ commercial heartbeat is strong, it is also environmentally-minded and makes Mother Nature an important priority. Palliser Ridge has all stock water reticulated throughout the entire property, and this stock water comes from a bore on the Turanganui Plains. There is also a consented water take of 15 l/s from the same catchment.

Kurt and Jim have a planting programme focused on retiring old dams and establishing native vegetation for shading and habitat improvement. The Turanganui River flows along the northern end of the boundary, and this area is fenced-off to restrict stock access and has large margins of native bush. Kurt also undertook a large wetland restoration project last year.

Jim is an advocate for protecting and enhancing native biodiversity, not only on Palliser Ridge, but around south Wairarapa, and enjoys being involved in many restoration projects.

The judges were impressed to see stock health being carefully monitored when in the yards and the use of overhead sprinklers to minimise dust.
For the future, the family is looking to take Palliser Ridge to the next level. “Our focus will be to grow our brand to promote our industry and its processes to consumers and tourists far and wide.”

Awards Won

Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award

Massey University Innovation Award

Norwood Agri-Business Management Award

2019 Greater Wellington Regional Supreme Winner