14 April 2020
The Browns – Robert, Jane, Nick, Sophie, Will, Kate and Sam of Rukumoana Farms - Sheep & beef.
This cohesive family unit is successfully driving the three properties that make up Rukumoana Farms. The property has significantly grown in size during the 34 years that Robert and Jane have been involved and planning is now well underway to ensure a smooth succession to their family.
The positive stance of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards attracted the family to enter, along with it being a chance to acknowledge the hard work that has gone into the farms by both past and present generations.
The sheep and beef farm aims to fatten 450 cattle each year, while also hosting about 150 dairy grazers. The property runs almost 6,500 sheep, fattening all terminal lambs. Over the past 20 years, the family has developed a Wairere Ewe flock which now has facial eczema tolerance bred into it.
The family wants to leave a positive legacy, striving hard to produce quality stock while improving the farm’s environmental footprint. The judges praised the farm’s excellent infrastructure, along with the Browns’ willingness to try new things in innovative ways.
To help offset greenhouse gas emissions, 32ha of trees were planted under the Afforestation Grant Scheme in 2011, plus 12ha of bush retired. Three wetland areas have been fenced off and numerous native plants put in, while poplar poles are used for erosion control and shade, and predators are actively managed.
A direct drill is used to plant fattening crops – a no-tillage approach that helps conserve the soil.
Fertiliser is carefully managed and the family makes good use of an on-farm spring – using it for both homes and animals. A solar pump system is used to move water through a gravity-fed trough system.
The judges were impressed with the Browns’ formal succession plan as well as their involvement in both the community and wider industry.