14 April 2020
2020 finalists: George & Bobbi Williams of Mutuera Station — Sheep & beef.
George and Bobbi Williams have leased the 1050-hectare Mutuera Station at Wharekopae from George’s parents Chris and Kaye since 2013. After travelling and working in the UK, George farmed with his Dad from 2008 before leasing the farm with Bobbi.
Since then, they have focused on fencing, fertiliser and drainage.
Subdivision has reduced the size of the paddocks and George does all cropping and cultivation work himself. Livestock ratios have changed from breeding to more in favour of bull and steer trading. They lamb three and a half thousand Romney ewes and 650 hoggets and finish most of the lamb crop on the farm. Two hundred and thirty mixed age cows are calved each year with more than half of the bull progeny finished before the second winter. They also buy in and finish 100 R2 steers and 300 R1 and R2 bulls.
Volcanic ash/pumice soil suits the bull wintering on swedes, which has become a big part of the operation.
Novaflow is being used to combat the wet areas and increase the effective grazing area of newly cropped paddocks. Fencing and planting waterways has begun and more are planned; George was inspired by seeing successful riparian projects in Waikato.
There are plenty of mature native blocks retired from grazing, thanks to Chris and Kaye’s input over the years. There is 52ha of fenced, retired native bush plus 15 hectares of smaller exotic blocks. Erosion isn’t a huge issue but a few hundred willows have been planted in previous years to help with animal shade and track retention. George and Bobbi ringfenced a 14ha block of native bush in 2018 to exclude farm animals and improve stock flow, with the idea to fence off more in the future.
George and Bobbi’s social life revolves around a vibrant Rere district, mainly the primary school and golf club. George is a member of two local discussion groups and also a national group. They employ two young staff members – a stockman and a fencer/general to help with day-to-day farm operations.
Succession is a work in progress; George and Bobbi currently own the livestock and hope to be the owners of Mutuera Station in the near future.