Unlocking your block’s potential

Lifestyle Block

Tim Fahey’s healthy animals and pasture speak for themselves – and what they’re saying is seaweed.

When Tim’s success with his own eight acres saw him in demand with friends and neighbours the Dairy Flat lifestyler and former builder turned lifestyle contractor under the name
Lifestyle Block Services and began sharing his skills and equipment with others.

Focusing on property and pasture improvements and favouring a chemical-free approach he looked for a product that would help small block holders achieve their objectives, whether they were greener pastures, healthier plants and animals or increased productivity.

A visit to Field Days led him to Paeroa company, AgriSea, makers of organic seaweed-based soil, pasture and animal health concentrates. Tim and his wife Joanne read up on the products and talked to users, including experienced commercial farmers who were impressed by their results.

AgriSea’s liquid concentrates are made from fresh New Zealand native seaweed (Ecklonia radiata) gathered from remote coastal areas and batch-brewed with a blend of herbs for up to 90 days. This long, cold, slow process avoids heat, chemicals, freezing and dehydration that can affect the complex nutrients that seaweed contains including minerals, trace elements, vitamins and amino acids. The result is a readily accessible combination of micronutrients providing a more balanced approach than applying a single, chemically manufactured mineral.

Horticulturalists who tried the products on kiwifruit, plums and asparagus reported improved taste, storage life, firmness, higher brix levels (sugar content) and increased worm activity in the soil, while dairy farmers observed increases in pasture growth and reductions in vet bills with no loss of production.

Apart from applying lime to his block when he purchased it, Tim has exclusively used the AgriSea Soil and Pasture products on his plants and pastures, as well as feeding the Agrisea Animal health tonic directly to stock either as a drench, on their food, drinking water or milk (No sweeteners needed – animals love the taste).

Lifestyle application

With 30 weaner calves, nine yearlings, 10 ewes and 12 lambs, two pigs, 20 chickens and a large vege garden, he is using his eight acres (and four acres of grazing next door) fairly intensively but says his results in pasture and animal health and growth compare well, even with less intensively farmed blocks nearby.

Although initially skeptical about the small amount of seaweed concentrate required to make a difference (around 20-25 litres can service 10 acres) he is now using it for the fifth straight year, and like a growing number of clients, has seen the benefits first hand.

“People need to understand that because it’s natural product, it doesn’t turn things around in five minutes,” Tim says. Benefits accrue gradually with an improved soil structure, worm count and growth often apparent in the following season. Application rates vary depending on the ultimate objective. Land used for horses often requires more intensive treatment.

“I ask people what people want off their property and generally they just want healthy grass that will grow good healthy animals for home kill or breeding purposes,” he says.

Tim favours spring and autumn spraying of the Soil concentrate followed by the Pasture product four weeks later which he says usually encourages enough grass growth to prevent the need for weed spraying. Full pasture restoration can also involve ripping, aerating and rolling the soil.

Because AgriSea is a natural product, stock can stay in paddocks while they’re sprayed and the solutions can be used on shrubs, vegetables, fruit trees and stock without incurring a withholding period.