Farmer: Simon Topham
Soil Type: Makarewa/Peat
Effective Milking Platform Area: 175ha
Support Area: 40ha
Peak Cow Numbers 2012/13: 495
Peak Cow Numbers 2013/14: 520
Farm System (1-5): 4
Supplement Types: barley, PKE, silage, baleage
Production History 2012/13: 218,350 kgMS, 441 kgMS/cow, 1248 kgMS/ha
Production History 2013/14 (target): 222,830 kgMS, 430 kgMS/cow, 1273 kgMS/ha
Simon is the monitor farmer for Central Southland; he has been on his current farm for 4 years, previous to that he was at Lincoln University completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Agriculture. Simon works fulltime on the farm, he also has another fulltime staff member, and also a casual worker
When asked why he started pasture monitoring, Simon’s reply was “You can’t be accurate in a pasture based system if you don’t know what you’ve got”. He also stated that he doesn’t yet have enough experience to be able to “farm by feel”. The information gathered weekly by Simon is used to indicate upcoming surplus or deficits, shows urea requirements, and also identifies low performing paddocks.
During winter, 300 cows are sent to a grazier’s, 100 stay on crop on the milking platform and the R2's are on crop at the support block. Simon thinks there are several factors that contribute to making his particular system work. The first is regular pasture monitoring - allowing for quick decision making, the farm has been fully re-grassed in the past 10 years, Simon’s passion for the farm and his background in farming, and lastly Simon states that having his parents as his mentors is a huge factor.
Simon ensures he has hobbies that can get him away from the farm, he is heavily involved in the local Young Farmers club, he also enjoys playing sport and going hunting.