Dreamview Farm – Dairy

“Paddock 30 has never seen so much grass in it, it looks so good”

The aptly named Dreamview Farm overlooks Whaingaroa Harbour and the Tasman Sea on the hills above Raglan, a 300 acre property that has been farmed by David and Bronwyn Hill and family for 20 years.

Daughter Jess came onboard with an Ag degree at Lincoln university, convincing her parents to offer sustainably and locally produced dairy products to the eco-savvy Raglan community. Jess and her sister Kathy, who has a Bachelor of Science majoring in soil science, are also keen on using a more holistic nutrient management programme on the farm.

The farm is also home to Dreamview Creamery and homestay, a business enterprise owned and run by the whole family including daughter Jess on a milking platform of 85ha with the herd split into 60 cows for the creamery and 65 for factory collection. In the past four years the business has grown from 30 bottles from shipping container to a 200 sq m factory, designed and built by Jess and Kathy’s brother Matthew.

Agrisea’s Cambridge-based training and development manager Murray McEwan has been working with the Hill family for almost two years and is trialling one of Agrisea’s solid products, Combo+, against a conventional fertiliser programme that the farm had historically used. Measures include pasture quality, undertaking visual soil assessments and tests to determine if the cows have any grazing preferences between the two sites.

“They know better than we do,” says Murray. In a south facing hill paddock and another facing the sea, four comparative sites are being monitored. Two receive two applications a year of Combo+, a combination of AgriSea liquid Soil and Pasture Nutrition and Zeolite, while the other two follow a traditional fertiliser programme.

We’d like the trial to go for at least three years,” says Murray. The Combo+ is designed to remain in soil to improve nutrient and water retention. Carbon sequestration – the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide – is a particular favourite subject of Murray’s, who believes good pasture management can be a solution to carbon sequestration, rather than the Government’s reliance just on pine plantations. This too is in line with the Dreamview philosophy of sustainability.

Murray says it’s good to work with the family, and the trial is not too much of a strain on their extremely busy lives because it is working toward their goals for the farm. It also has the benefit of saving costs on the ongoing reliance on a fertiliser programme. One measure of this sort of growth could be recorded with the creamery’s website counter of the plastic bottles saved from their glass bottling operation – 153,246 at last view – as customers are delivered the local A2 milk in reusable glass bottles just like the old days.

“I asked dad if he had noticed any difference with fertiliser and the Agrisea and he said “paddock 30 has never seen so much grass in it, it looks so good”, and that was the paddock with Agrisea in it,” says Jess. “It’s cool he’s taking note of it, I love that they want to listen to us. “Our parents are really open to change and that’s the cool thing about them.”

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