Farmers want Molesworth to stay as farm

April 18, 2018

Farmers want the country’s biggest farm Molesworth Station to stay as a farm.

. . .The Department of Conservation started an online survey on the future of Molesworth Station, between Marlborough and Canterbury, in January to gauge public appetite for a radical rethink of the farm.

The survey follows up a 2013 management plan for the 180,000-hectare Molesworth, about the size of Stewart Island, which looked to move the station away from its traditional farming focus to include more recreation and conservation activities.

But Molesworth neighbour Steve Satterthwaite, of Muller Station, said getting rid of farming could create “major ramifications” for the environment.

“As far as Molesworth is concerned, I believe it should continue to be farmed and there’s plenty of reasons as to why,” he said.

Without farming, there could be pest problems and weed issues, as well as a huge fire risk, Satterthwaite said.

Weeds, pests and fires don’t observe farm boundaries.

Any weed and pest management and fire prevention measures farmers do can be nullified if their neighbours aren’t doing their best too.

It was concerning the public could weigh in on the future of the Molesworth and potentially “sway” what happened with the station, he said.

“It really concerns me that unaffected people that have no knowledge of the utilisation of Molesworth and the risk associated with not farming it can potentially have the input to sway the politicians or the decision-makers because of their numerical numbers,” he said.

“We are in the east of dry land zones, and if the fuel was allowed to be completely uncontrolled and public have unlimited access, the risk of a major fire in that environment would be one that would need to be considered seriously.” . . 

Middlehurst Station farmer Susan Macdonald said she would like to see farming at the station continue, with the possibility of providing a little more public access.

She said it was “important” for farming at the station to continue for pest and weed reasons.

“I would like to see it continue to be farmed in harmony with the environment and in harmony with people.

“There’s a lot of land there and I think it’s got a huge value in terms of agriculture.” . . 

J Bush & Sons Honey co-owner Murray Bush said the “status quo” needed to continue into the future.

“I think there is a good balance between public access and farming but not having farming would actually make the property go backwards, I believe, and then it wouldn’t have that same appeal to the public,” he said.

Bush said allowing public access to the station year-round could create a safety risk.

“If you open the road 52 weeks of the year and let people just do what they want … if it was never closed and it was open, there’s no communication up there so unless there’s millions and millions and millions of dollars going to be spent on public access safety … it’s not an environment to be taken lightly,” he said.

“Unless you’re going to employ people on the ground 52 weeks of the year just to look after the tourists, it’s a real issue and I think people underestimate that environment.” . . .

The neighbours’ concerns about changing the balance between farming and access are valid.

The road through Molesworth is closed in winter and can be closed in summer if the fire risk rises.

That is necessary for public safety and to protect the environment.

Molesworth is farmed by Landcorp which makes a very small return on capital but income from the farm offsets the costs of weed and pest control, and grazing reduces the fire danger.

The station generates an income, looks after the environment and allows some public access.

If the area farmed is reduced the income will drop, even if DoC lets commercial concessions for access,  and costs will increase.

Molesworth is the country’s biggest farm and it should continue to be farmed.


Rural round-up

November 10, 2013

Grass-fed meat promises to revive health benefits – Gerald Piddock:

Farming and consuming grass-fed red meat might just save the planet.

This form of farming was completely sustainable, nutritional therapist Nora Gedgaudas told farmers and visitors at the World Angus Forum in Rotorua.

It is also the predominant method of farming livestock in New Zealand.

“Grass-fed meat may just be the most healthy and sustainable food source on Earth,” she said.

Much of the earth’s landmass was unsuitable for agriculture, yet it could support grazing livestock while providing nutritionally dense food, she said. . .

1105kg steer continues tradition– Tim Cronshaw:

A friesian and charolais cross steer tipped the scales at 1105 kilograms to take the heaviest steer title in the Prime Cattle Competition at Canterbury Agricultural Park.

Dunsandel farmer John McDrury added a second title to his collection at the pre-Canterbury A & P Show event this week, after winning in 2010 with a 1250kg steer. His grandson, Jack McDrury, won in 2011 with a 1000kg charolais.

The supreme champion animal was a limousin heifer, which also won the best single heifer title for Jeannette and Ralph Adams from Flaxton, near Rangiora. . .

Bloodthirsty ticks on a quest:

BLOODTHIRSTY ADULT TICKS are on a quest right now and farmers in the North Island in tick-prevalent areas should be checking cattle and talking to their veterinarian, say DairyNZ.

They should be assessing their risk in an effort to limit the spread of a new strain of the blood-borne parasite Theileria, says DairyNZ.

Cases of cattle being affected by the new Ikeda strain of Theileria orientalis, which is carried by ticks and causes anaemia, have been on the increase since late 2012, particularly in the upper half of the North Island. . .

Stock shift sees Molesworth road open earlier  – Tony Benny:

The Molesworth Station road has opened early this year, instead of the usual December 28, thanks to a change in farming practice and continuing efforts to show the historic high country property off.

“Our goal is that over their lifetime, everybody in New Zealand comes and has a look and gets a feel of what they own,” said Molesworth manager Jim Ward.

The public has previously been kept off the 59-kilometre road that links Hanmer with Marlborough’s Awatere Valley until close to New Year, because of fears that they could interfere with farming operations.

This year the road opened two months earlier, at Labour Weekend, thanks to young cattle being sent to finishing blocks in Hanmer rather than being kept on the station. . .

Bush v city: why I won’t be joining the exodus from rural Australia – Gabrielle Chan:

From wide open spaces to a genuine sense of community, country Australia, let me count the ways I love thee.

So the bush is bleeding. No one wants to live here. Just a few of us hardy souls left, it appears.

We were told this month rural Australians are falling in love with the beaches – that coastal strip that rings the country, with all its white sands, clear blue seas, temperate climate, its schools and hospitals, its shopping malls and movie theatres.

Well all I can say is: what a bunch of tossers.

Granted, as a city girl, I could not initially see the attractions that lay beyond the tall dark handsome farmer who lured me westward out of my three-metre-wide Surry Hills terrace and into the great open spaces.

Granted, I did spend a fair bit of time walking through the paddocks carrying a large branch, suffering from some agoraphobic belief that all this space without a single human had to hold some hidden monster that would emerge from the morning fog to attack me.

Ah, but like most affairs, the delights of rural life crept up slowly and now I have fallen in love with the bush. . .

#gigatownoamaru has fallen in love with the goal of being the southern hemisphere’s first gigatown.


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