Barbara Annan admits she knew very little about farming when
she found herself widowed with three young children and a
station to run.
Until her husband John's sudden death in 1990, her role on
Lindis Peaks Station, a 3759ha property near Tarras, had been
limited to driving an old Austin truck feeding out, helping
with tailing, and driving the Land-Cruiser, with the children
on board, raking hay.
While she had wonderful help from friends and neighbours, she
felt ''extremely inadequate''.
''I was devastated and didn't quite know what to do,'' Mrs
Annan recalled, during a field day organised by the Otago
Merino Association at Lindis Peaks on Friday.
Lindis Peaks was drawn from the Morven Hills ballot by her
children's great-great-uncle Nelson Young in 1910 and he
later bought additional land.
When Mr Young died in 1940, her father-in-law, Charlie, took
over. John Annan took over in 1975, when the couple married.
Mrs Annan believed both her husband and her father-in-law
were quite innovative. Charlie Annan did a lot of cropping,
while John Annan got a land development encouragement loan,
did fencing up on the hill and worked up the native ground on
the downs. He also started to chop lucerne into silage.
Following a conversation with a friend whose property was run
under a board structure, Mrs Annan decided to implement that
initiative at Lindis Peaks in 1997.
She believed it was a very effective way of running the
business. Meetings were a ''wonderful vehicle'' for being
able to discuss what was going to happen and the vision of
farm manager Tom Moore. He was able to suggest what machinery
he would like to buy, any grievances could be discussed, and
expert opinions could be garnered from ''all sorts of
people'', she said.
''It's a business model that I think works really well for
this property,'' she said.
Mrs Annan met Mr Moore every two weeks and they went through
the accounts and discussed what was happening on the farm.
The rest of the time, he was responsible for all the
day-to-day running and any long-term changes he would like.
Mrs Annan was now stepping back a little and daughter Lucy
was taking over as farm secretary. The team worked
effectively together, she said.
Mr Moore looked after the stock work, while Lucy's husband,
Simon Maling, was investigating irrigation development
Lindis Peaks is a dryland property, ranging from 300m to
1300m, and comprising hill country, rolling downs and flats.
This year, stock wintered comprised 9200 ewes, 6000 hoggets,
135 cows and 100 rising 2-year cattle. The main emphasis was
on fattening hoggets.
The property used to run halfbreds but, about 25 years ago,
they started putting merino rams over the halfbred ewes.
Bloodlines were Malvern Downs and Armidale and most of the
wool went to Icebreaker. About 3500 ewes went to a terminal
Mr Moore, who came to Lindis Peaks in 2003, after seven years
at Bendigo Station at Tarras, said there was still a lot to
do but he really enjoyed his job.
Mr Maling, a former Otago All Black, acknowledged he was
''pretty new'' to the agricultural industry and had been
shepherding at Lindis Peaks for a couple of years.
Looking at irrigation options for the future had been an
interesting exercise. They had done some modelling on
irrigation and how it could work for the property, the focus
being on how best to maximise sheep farming, he said.
Farm consultant Peter Young outlined factors to be considered
when assessing the value of irrigation. Those included water
source location, quality and reliability, design and
planning, capital costs, whether the development was
complementary to the existing farm system, financial
analysis, looking at the purpose of the development and what
return was acceptable, and management.
Some highly successful extensive farmers struggled with the
intensive nature of irrigation. They had to be prepared for
super-intensive management if they were to get the most out
of the development.
''You can't afford not to,'' he said.
Zella Smith, from Environment Canterbury, and Bruce Monaghan,
from the Otago Regional Council,
spoke about their respective councils' water plans.
The proposed Canterbury land and water regional plan, which
was going to affect the development of farming in the region,
set the framework for managing to environmental limits within
catchments in terms of water quality, Ms Smith said.
The plan was notified last year and the extent to which an
individual property owner was affected depended on their
Before July 1, 2017, the focus was on raising awareness of
nitrogen-leaching losses from farming activities. Farmers
should be keeping records of how things operated on their
farm, particularly using Overseer. It was expected that by
July 2017, specific leaching limits for different farming
activities would be established.
Farmers who complied with the limits, once established, would
continue to farm as a permitted activity. If they could not
comply, they might require a resource consent, she said.
Dave Anderson, from Bog Roy Station, near Omarama, said
things were ''going to get worse'', with more intensive
agriculture and more nutrient leaching and loading.
''You'd be betting on long odds to say compliance will get
more lenient and less expensive,'' he said.
Richard Subtil, from Omarama Station, believed it was
important to not just ''whack it in the bottom drawer'' if
your nutrient budget looked good. Spending money getting it
peer-reviewed could be the ''cheapest thing you do'' as, when
it got picked up in the next edition, it could be ''just so
far off the other side of the scale it's not funny''. Getting
the right answer from Overseer in one edition could be
''riding for a fall'', Mr Subtil said.
Mr Monaghan outlined the Otago Regional Council's proposed
plan change 6A which was near to being finalised.
It remained an effects-based plan for permitted activity. The
way farmers farmed was over to them, as long as they met the
standards specified in the plan.
The objectives were to achieve good water quality, make sure
farmers could run an economic business, and provide for
recreational opportunities, he said.
When speaking to sheep and beef farmers on undulating rolling
hill country around Otago, the part of the plan that gave the
most concern was stock access to water, because of the
uncertainty of whether they had to fence off waterways, Mr
Stock could have access to any waterway in Otago providing
they were not causing discoloration or contamination and
there was no pugging, slipping and slumping.
Stock could be taken through through waterways if there was
no crossing or bridge, but farmers needed to make sure it did
not cause contamination or discoloration of water.
When that comment brought murmurs from those attending, he
said a reasonable amount of discoloration had yet to be
The council would be holding roadshows and there would be
liaison and guidance to meet the water quality standards, he
Mr Subtil believed farmers should be doing their own water
quality tests. It would mean when ''some trigger point set by
somebody else'' was activated, the farmer would have
reliable, historical data on what impact they had had on that
''Otherwise, people come along and point the finger and you
don't have information to counteract what they're saying,''