Home > Benefits > Gary Peddle

Gary and Gaylene Peddle
Patoka, Hawke's Bay

Gary Peddle

When Gary and Gaylene Peddle were at the point where they had to ask themselves whether their business was a sustainable one, they knew they'd have to evaluate everything.

Their 1,600ha property was already a good producing farm but they were starting to question whether it was an economical one. 'We needed a fresh and innovative approach,' recalls Gary, 'one that was less stressful but kept up productivity.' They overhauled the business and began investing in better infrastructure, including new dams and fencing, and obtaining resource consent to develop a neighbouring 400ha while creating another 320ha of native reserve.

They had always rotated their annual top-dressing with lime one year and superphosphate the next. Despite being happy with the amount of pasture growth that typically occurred on the farm, they were told to apply 375kg/ha sulphur super to rectify low Olsen P levels. 'Despite that recommendation, we chose to use Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate instead because it fitted the budget and because it had a good reputation for quality. Four years ago, we applied 320kg/ha of Hatuma DP10%S to start with and since then we've gone from strength to strength.

'We're producing better, healthier animals. There's been an improvement in the ewes' constitution and we're not carrying tail enders like we used to. They even have less dags now which makes management easier. Recently we had to crutch only 50 out of 1,670 ewe hoggets.' A few years back the Peddles were selling all their store lambs at the saleyard but, due to their new business approach they're now marketing their own lambs. Some are going to a local processor in Hastings and some are being sold on for further finishing. 'We finish our own lambs at an 18kg average, which is about optimum for us. Despite the hard 2010 season, we still managed to get 128% lambing at docking. Our wool weights have gone up to 3.4kg off our hoggets compared to the previous 3.0kg, and the quality of it is fantastic. We're getting heavier cattle now and most are being sold at 500kg liveweight or better.'

Gary and Gaylene, along with their team of Grant and Mark, say the improvement in grass quality and clover population has been the biggest change. 'It's been a real success story. We're getting two growth seasons of clover now per year that we never had. We had areas where we couldn't get anything to grow, but now clover is appearing across the farm from nowhere, even up through the ratstail. In only three years we've managed to develop our back block from all native grass to solid clover with just 400kg/ha of a Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate blend and 20kg/ha of seed. A farm that has good clover coverage is far more efficient than one that doesn't. The more we've got, the more natural nitrogen we're getting.

'We believe we've increased the pasture utilisation by 10 to 15% without increasing the hectares. We reckon we're getting more grass growth but, at the same time, the stock are grazing the paddocks more evenly. They just love it.' While the recent run of droughts in the past three years has taken its toll on the property, Gary says the improvement in drought resilience has meant the pasture now holds on longer and, when it finally rains, it's very quick to recover.

'Our whole business now surrounds sustainability. For us to achieve this we need to be able to move into the future. The old 'high-input' model wasn't sustainable and, from what we're seeing here, I think we've now got it right. The Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate blend we're putting on the hill country is not damaging the environment because it's insoluble, non-acidic and available to the plant straight away. This place is covered in vermicasts from all the earthworms that have returned which help recycle the litter and supply more nutrients.

'It took me a while to get my head around the fact Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate is a new product and no longer a standard mix of lime and superphosphate. But when you see it, it's obvious. You can pick up a handful of Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate and it's got a nice soft feel to it. The results we're seeing on the farm make us think a tonne of Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate does the same as a tonne of superphosphate, yet there are benefits to the dicalcic that superphosphate doesn't bring. You can't put anything on the ground that would be any better; it's a much better quality product than others on the market and it's sustainably priced. We're saving $30,000 a year by using Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate and that equates to a lot of extra development work we're able to carry out.
The service from the Hatuma team is excellent. Bill, our Hatuma Field Representative, is brilliant and is an important part of the nucleus team. Dealing with the team at Hatuma makes the whole top-dressing process easy.'

'The world is heading more towards organic-type principles. New Zealand will have to produce a product with fewer chemicals and lower input costs to give ourselves the best advantage, and Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate is a more efficient use of nutrients to achieve this. It's all about the price for the product we're putting out the gate. And we're comfortable knowing our end product is getting better.'