As an agricultural contractor, Chris Reymer witnesses a wide variety of farming practices in his travels.
It also gives him pause for thought as he comes home to his own dairy farm, set on 100ha at Ngahinapouri in the Waikato and co-owned by brother Mike.
They sharemilk 310 cows on the farm, which is run by a manager while Chris operates the contracting business. The herd produces 132,000kgMS.
The brothers took over the farm on June 1, 2020. With a history of elevated synthetic nitrogen use the farm’s soil pH was found to be low, and there were quite a lot of weeds; Chris approached his Kiwi Fertiliser rep, Marg Addison, to find a solution.
Marg suggested Chris treat the farm with Total Replacement Therapy in order to restore the soil’s good biology, increase quality pasture growth and reduce synthetic nitrogen.
“Working as contractors, we see products come and go, but we also see the benefits that some can offer,” Chris says.
“We’re always keen to try something new, so we started Total Replacement Therapy on a 25ha block of the farm.”
The 25ha is split over three areas, each with different soil types; control paddocks divide each block.
It didn’t take long for Chris’ farm manager to report some interesting observations.
“Our manager has reported an increase in pasture density in the treated paddocks,” Chris says. “Not only that, but the paddocks treated with Terragen Great Land have gone from some of our lower ranked paddocks to some of our upper ranked paddocks, all within this season.”
They also observed that the treated paddocks stayed greener and recovered a lot faster from a dry spell between January and March 2021 than the control paddocks.
There are also fewer weeds in the treated paddocks.
“I’ve applied five tonnes of lime this season, which has helped increase the pH of the soil,” Chris says.
“The paddocks are filling up with more favourable grasses and clover, rather than weeds.”
Most excitingly, Chris has managed to reduce his use of ammonium sulphate on the
treated paddocks by a huge amount.
“We’ve applied two lots of ammonium sulphate this season, but instead of the 175-180 units applied on the farm last season, we were able to reduce that to 50-60 units,” he says.
Further examination of soil samples under a microscope in January found
a significant increase in good bacteria and fungi.
“We’ve worked with the Total Replacement Therapy team to formulate a ‘brew’ that is right for the farm,” Chris says.
“David, Marg and the team are pretty good: all of my questions are answered, and they are all committed to getting it right.”