John started his farming career in Golden Bay in 1969, before moving to the Bay of Plenty in 1980, and finally settling at their current property in 1989. Land use at John and Margaret’s farm is very diverse, with plantation forestry, kiwifruit and avocados, a seasonal 400-cow dairy herd, and dairy support.
Johns says, “for us, we have always been dairy farmers, but other opportunities grew out of that and in recent years that has been the development of kiwifruit, which is now paying its way. In the past, avocados have carried us through the low payout years.” He recognises the significance of using the right class of land for the most suitable use, which is why his farm pine plantations are found on the steeper, less productive class of land. The better, more productive land is reserved for horticulture.
In terms of his involvement in the Lighthouse Farm group, he credits Andre Hickson with the enthusiasm for encouraging farmers to recognise opportunities for building on knowledge to improve the catchment.
John identifies that with environment planning, nothing is set in stone, and regulations and the farm plan are always front of mind. He says, “it can seem a bit scary at first, but NZ is a primary producer and we will find a way. With tweaking and constant improvement, we will get there. Change is constant.”
Recent changes on the Scrimgeour property include a reduction in the quantity of nitrogen applied in some of the heavier applications, and continued monitoring and reduction of phosphate applications.
This year has seen the introduction of plantain, sown into the existing sward. Humates are being trialled on the kiwifruit and the avocados are receiving less nitrogen for both fruit-keeping quality and environmental benefits.
This is obviously a couple that really embrace change and continuous improvement.