Great days with Dr Christine Jones

This week South Otago had a special visitor with acclaimed Australian soil scientist Dr Christine Jones here for two events. On Tuesday nearly 200 farmers attended a Beef and Lamb New Zealand hosted events at Clinton where Dr Jones spoke on regenerative farming practices. Dr David Stevens of New Zealand research institute AgResearch also contributed some local research findings.

Dr Christine Jones presentation Clinton (photo H.Bielski)

Farmers from all across the southern South Island attended.

Some of the crowd at Clinton

This was followed by a field trip to Hamish and Amy Bielski’s property between Balclutha and Clinton. Hamish has been experimenting with various pasture cropping and diverse multi species pastures, with the hope of reducing chemical and fertiliser inputs, restoring land function and increasing on farm profitability.

The crowd explore a winter feed paddock consisting of Kale, Hairy Vetch, Fava Bean, Ryecorn, Tillage Radish, Crimson Clover, Persian Clover and Sunflower
Close up of winter crop. Yield estimate 9t DM/Ha.



Wheat direct drilled into a timothy based pasture.

On Thursday a more in depth day with Christine was held in Balclutha. This allowed the sell out crowd of 50 to delve deeper into some of the processes and more discussion on the grazing aspects of regenerative farming. Those that had not done had a look at Hamish’s various pasture and crop trials afterwards.

Balclutha day with Christine “making life from light”
Multi species pasture – Timothy, Cocksfoot, Brome’s, Lucerne, Plantain, Chicory, Clovers + more

Organic Farm Systems – Autumn Update

It has been a busy season for Organic Farm systems, primarily with a major organic dairy project underway. There has also been many good field days this year, and I am particularly looking forward to catching up with Dr Christine Jones at a nearby field day at the start of May, and working with Dr Graham Shepherd later this year.

Lecture with Dr Graham Shepherd

Trial work with seaweed at Stevenson’s has been interesting with VSA’s showing a marked increase in worm populations over a three-year period, even with a significant intervening dry period.

Early trial of George’s mixed brassica
Visual Soil Assessment with George – 63 worms!!

It has also been enjoyable to meet the many visitors to New Zealand this year including US veterinarian Dr Paul Dettloff and Dan Mosgaller of US organic dairy co-op Organic Valley.

Field day with Dr Paul Dettloff at Clearwater’s farm, Geraldine.

It was also good to get away for a break to Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore. Even on holiday you still taking note of, ask and learn about different agricultural and ecological systems. Once a farmer, always a farmer. Thanks to all my clients for your support this year, keep up the good work!

Rice fields being replanted after a major flood a few month prior, near Hoi An, Vietnam. The flood waters reached half way up the power pole (about 10ft), or 1st floor of the pink house.
Mixed agricultural systems on a small Island on the Thu Bon River, Vietnam (not my bike…)
Weren’t meant to be heading up the road that way!
Traditional mat weaving, Vietnam


You can have your cake (steak) and eat it! Allan Savory – TedX

Ever heard of the saying “Can’t have your Cake and Eat it”. Allan Savory shows we can have our cake (or more fittingly Steak) and eat it on the subject of climate change and livestock.  If you have never heard of Allan Savory, his ideas and work are well worth looking into. A excellent example of how we could all make a difference, in a win-win future. There are many New Zealand farmers applying this management successfully. From 2013 – 22 mins.



Organic day with US Vet

Learn transition and animal health tips from an expert USA organic vet – March 2018

Dr Paul Dettloff is the most senior and experienced organic vet in the United States. For the last 25 years he has worked for Organic Valley Dairies, the largest organic dairy cooperative in the world, with 2300 farms. He is on the point of retiring and has brought hundreds of dairy farms onto the Organic Valley truck. His specialised knowledge and approachable style of teaching is unmatched for practical value to farmers. He will teach establishing animal health and production from the soil up, ways to treat health issues and demonstrate how to assess animal health and production from cow vital signs and hair coat. Valuable for both dairy and sheep/beef farmers.

1 March – Fonterra Organic Dairy Conference for suppliers, by invitation only. New Plymouth
5 March – ODPG Workshop, Paterson Farm, 1931 State Highway 27, Patetonga, Waikato 10am to 4pm. $100pp, ODPG members $75. Teas and lunch provided.
8 March – Southern Organics Group Workshop, James Cummings Wing Bld. Gore, Southland 10am to 4pm. $50 pp for non-members, free for SOG members. Teas provided. BYO Lunch.
13 March – ODPG Workshop, Clearview Dairy, 793 Peel Forest Road, Geraldine, Canterbury 10am to 4pm. $100pp, ODPG members $75. Teas and lunch provided.

Registration required by one week in advance. Please email to save your space. Bring cash or a cheque on the day.

Visit and for details