How to optimise pasture production off uncultivatable hill country


  • D. Daniell
  • S. Buckley



Around 70 percent (guesstimate) of New Zealand's sheep and beef population is farmed on uncultivatable hill country. There are large areas where individual farms have less than ten percent available for cultivation. Wairere is such a property. Originally the southern end of the "seventy mile bush", the soils are poor, derived from sandstone and clay, with pHs of 4.9-5.2 and phosphorus (P) levels of 1-2. Following initial land clearing there were several rounds of reversion to Manuka until the mid 1960s when my father John embarked on a programme which included large inputs of lime, at 5 t/hectare, super at 1 t/hectare, and DAP at 100 kg/hectare, all flown on in the first 28 months. This programme took from 1965 to 1982. I personally spent nine months cutting scrub—more recently I have been a shareholder in a manuka honey company planting scrub, how things go round! This programme was accompanied by subdivision and provision of stock water by the construction of dams. There were invasions of porina and manuka beetle following development, and porina control is still required on a regular basis. Wairere has run performance recorded sheep since 1967, based on a registered Romney stud started by my grandfather in 1929. We winter around 9500 sheep and 340 cattle on 1070 effective hectares. The 5300 ewes wean 145 percent average; the 2000 ewe hoggets (all in lamb) wean around 1700 lambs. All hoggets have been mated for the past 50 years; the 1800-2000 ram hoggets are culled lightly in late winter, and taken through to private sale in November; the 300 cows (replacements bought in) calve from mid October, with most wearers sold in April.


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How to Cite

Daniell, D., & Buckley, S. (2015). How to optimise pasture production off uncultivatable hill country. Journal of New Zealand Grasslands, 77, 57–60.



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