Paul and Pip Walker have been farming on their 93 ha dairy farm since 2005. In 2021/22, they added another 20 ha, giving them 113 ha total.
The farm has had its challenges and is subject to flooding. Paul has been working with David Law, from Forward Farming since 2019, with the aim of achieving a healthy, balanced soil with little intervention. They are starting to see the benefits with a strong focus on using lime and fish fertiliser, and strategic use of nitrogen.
A Kliptank was built in 2019 to replace their unlined pond. The new storage system enables them to hold onto nutrients and volume more easily and also allows for better timing of application.
It is not ‘all work and no play’ with Paul, though. Having a balanced lifestyle is important for his mental wellbeing. Some of the activities Paul is involved in include:
· Being a rural support trust facilitator since 2021.
· Acting as an advocate for Farmstrong, promoting the wellness resource since its inception seven years ago.
· Currently coaching rugby at the local high school, previously at the local rugby club.
· Participating in a community-based exercise group at a local facility.
· Golfing regularly on Fridays.
· Moonlighting as a social cricketer during summer.
· Surfing For Farmers based at Pukehina. This starts four weeks prior to Christmas and goes through till March (usually on a Thursday from 5.30pm onwards). During the winter there is a Board Riders Club all based from the Pukehina Surf Rescue Club.
As he has progressed through his farming career, Paul is more aware of how important it is to look after yourself first and foremost.
“If you are making important decisions, whether on a day to day level or policy wise, it pays to be in a good headspace. You are the most important asset in your business, and if you are in a stressed state your ability to make decisions can be incredibly difficult.”
Farmstrong can provide you with the necessary tools to keep you on the right track.
Looking to the future, Paul believes that farmers, growers and landowners need to make informed decisions for the betterment of the community.
Paul’s focus is to be efficient with his resources whilst respecting the land. He applauds the community-led approach that Wai Kōkopu has taken.