Meet our Lighthouse Farmers: Brad and Rachel Strange
Brad and Rachel Strange, in partnership with Robyn Denham, are farming in the headwaters of the Kaikokopu sub-catchment on a 166 ha property of which 148 ha is effective. The non-effective area includes 14.3 ha of regenerating natives.
The farm is a mixture of flat valley bottoms (20%) and rolling plateaus (34%), with steep sidlings (45%) joining the two. HiLo Farm runs a mix of Wiltshire ewe flock, dairy grazers and Hereford cow herd.
Having been on the farm for only three years it's still a work in progress, and Brad, Rachel and Robyn are tweaking the farm system and stock ratios as they go. For their farming business, they're open-minded as to what to do to secure financial and environmental stability.
In 2020, 14.7 ha of the steep sidlings were space planted with maple and elm trees at 68 stems/ha. This provided 30% canopy cover to meet ETS requirements. The aim was to give canopy closure and stability for the slopes, whilst still being able to graze underneath with sheep and weaners. They also found some recycled tree guards and got stakes made for the trees. A nursery from Invercargill provided the bare-rooted plants.
Robyn has been the key driver for water testing, leading the Upper Kaikokopu sub-catchment group for the last year with water testing (full suite analysis) at 5-6 sites in their local sub-catchment each quarter. One of those sites is in their gully just downstream of a spring.
In addition, they have set up a luxurious holiday home on their property, which Rachel runs. Falcon’s Nest is perched on a hill on their property, overlooking the farm land and the ocean on their property.
- Always looking forward, Brad, Rachel and Robyn are exploring strategies for improvement, including:
- Managing the steeper slopes of the property for a financial return.
- Tweaking stock ratios to meet land class.
- Review with Bay of Plenty Regional Council the role of detention dams in the valley bottoms.
- Review fertiliser use, especially management of high P soils.
- Continue water quality sampling.