Farm findings to be shared

Clare Buchanan, of Align Farms, studied environmental science before moving to help out on the...
Clare Buchanan, of Align Farms, studied environmental science before moving to help out on the family farming business, Align Farms in Mid Canterbury. PHOTO SUPPLIED
Clare Buchanan is leading a case study trial at Mid Canterbury’s Align Farms as it moves towards a regenerative farm system.

She is head of environment and innovation, and responsible for data collection and presentation, as well as assessing and implementing innovation on farm in the move to diversify the system.

Next month Align Group will present the findings of the trial in an online video presentation and then a live question and answer session on December 1, at 11am.

It is also planning "Regen Farm Tours" on December 7 and 9. Free tickets can be booked via eventbrite.

Ms Buchanan is no stranger to helping farmers improve their environmental footprints.

Born and bred in Canada, she studied environmental science before moving to Canterbury seven years ago to help out at Align.

She helped with the environmental compliance on the family farm and then went to work for Ravensdown Environmental.

She believed Canada and New Zealand were pretty comparable.

She had had to learn a lot about New Zealand agriculture when she arrived, but a lot of her knowledge translated well.

"With farming, we are doing quite well compared to other countries. It’s a balance between the economy and the environment, but we are taking steps in the right direction."

In 2019 she was seconded to be demonstrations manager at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm, working on outreach, connecting with farmers and partners, engaging with social media and assisting with the weekly farm walks and quarterly focus days.

It gave her an opportunity to expand her skill set and get some exposure to cutting-edge dairy science.

In Ms Buchanan’s new role she is looking after Align Farms’ environmental compliance and overseeing the regenerative agriculture conversion case study.

Her passion for biodiversity and water quality in the Ashburton district saw her this year take up a seat with the Ashburton water zone committee; that was a way to positively contribute, she said.

Align Farms, owned by John Buchanan and Rob Cameron, is made up of six dairy and dairy support farms near Hinds and Mt Somers.

The trial was about finding a way to improve the environmental footprint.

"We operate as a closed system and we have already planted some diverse seed mixes, with 15 different grass seeds, as well as diverse winter feed mixes with kale, fodder beet and winter-active grasses."

There had been positive results and responses early on in the stock and the soil.

Ms Buchanan is collecting and collating the data, with input from the science advisory board formed to support the project, with the intention of publishing the results.

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