Dairy farmers and communities working together to support the environment

Wairarapa dairy farmers Rachel and Hamish Hammond are among thousands of farmers throughout New Zealand volunteering in local environmental initiatives.


2 min read

Wairarapa dairy farmers Hamish and Rachel Hammonds’ two young sons, George (2) and Lou (5 months), inspire them to contribute to a positive future for their local community, dairy farming and the environment.

The couple enjoy working with fellow community members to help protect and enhance the Pāpāwai stream and neighbouring bush block. The Pāpāwai Care group is led by John Argue and a small committee and has been planting every year and managing established plantings.

Rachel says the group started many years ago and Hamish’s Grandad, Malcolm Hammond, was involved in some of the first plantings.

“We get a great sense of satisfaction from volunteering and it’s great to connect with other locals,” Rachel says.

On the farm, the couple use mixed pasture species, including the leafy herb plantain. DairyNZ-led research indicates Ecotain plantain can significantly reduce nitrogen loss from pasture to help improve water quality, while maintaining milk production.

The couple are also efficient with their water usage. “In dry summers we are irrigating but our water application is closely monitored with soil moisture probes to ensure water isn’t wasted and the plants are optimising the water applied,” Rachel says.

Water is recycled to wash the yard and the cows are milked once a day, which has halved daily water use at the dairy shed.

“We know we need a good environment to farm well and we want our kids to have a great backyard,” Rachel says.

Hamish is active in the Wairarapa Water Users Society advocating for equitable and scientifically based decision-making around regulations and compliance. The society advocates for best practice irrigation methods and runs training and field days.

On the farm, the Hammonds have planted alongside the stream and boundaries, providing shade and shelter for animals.

“We’re committed to best practice in everything we do, including breeding the best cows and being efficient with feed and fertiliser use. We want a really sustainable farming business that’s resilient to change,” Hamish says.

The couple have Master’s degrees from Massey University – Hamish in agribusiness and farm management, and Rachel in animal science. They decided dairy farming would be the best use of their skills.

“Farming is a great lifestyle. Running your own business means you’re in charge of your own destiny, and the work is mentally and physically rewarding.”

Hamish says after spending a lot of time in front of computers at university, he appreciates the break from the glare of screens.

The farm is right next to Greytown and Rachel says the family loves the rural/urban mix. They are keen to inspire young people from towns, cities and rural communities into dairy farming.

The couple host high school students for work experience on the farm and give talks at career days. “We want to show what a great lifestyle it is to live and work on a farm and get people involved in the dairy sector,” Hamish says.

Rachel says a farm is a great place to bring up a family, with their children spending time outdoors and with animals every day.

Page last updated:

11 Apr 2024