Meet Tim & Mel Cumming, Our Lighthouse Farmers

Farming on Old Coach Road, Tim and Mel Cumming run a 287 Kiwi Cross/Friesian herd on a milking platform of 85 ha alongside a small number of dry stock on 6 ha of sidlings. The farm straddles the Pongakawa Stream.Tim and Mel have been on the property for 12 years, tweaking their farm system and keeping an open mind as to what changes need to happen in order to make their farming operation environmentally sustainable whilst creating enough surplus to fund their debt.

There has been quite a bit of development on the farm over the past two years, with the establishment of a new effluent pond (5,000 m3) and setting up the farm for irrigation with the use of fixed sprinklers. This will enable 64% of the milking platform to be irrigated and receive effluent.

Liquid nitrogen is used to boost pasture growth. An In-Shed feed system is used throughout the year alongside imported kiwifruit and maize grown on-farm (9 ha). The cropping also includes 4 ha in oats (grazed in-situ). Twenty two percent (22%) of calves from MA Cows are reared and either sold or stored to a long-term customer or finished. The replacement rate is 24% with weaners and heifers being grazed off-farm.

Some of the strategies being looked at are:

  • The financial impacts of reducing cow numbers and brought in feed
  • Learn how to manage pepper/willow weed without chemicals so we can integrate the use of plantain and chicory in pastures
  • Trial area of regenerative pastures
  • Retirement of 1 ha of land to meet ETS requirements so that carbon credits can be captured
  • Strategic use of liquid N nitrogen, 50% N reduction with a target of 100 kg N/ha.
  • Trial different liquid N products and rates to further reduce N used.


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