State-owned farmer Pāmu has been able to reduce nitrogen input on its Waimakariri dairy farm while maintaining milk and grass production, by using fertigation – the application of fertiliser through irrigation.
Before that, the Department of Lands and Survey managed Crown land left over from the post-WWII ballot scheme for ex-servicemen.
This new proposal has a similar goal, although in 1946 not all men who got land had farming experience; they relied on help from nearby farmers and the Department of Agriculture.
Today, Landcorp, according to its website, owns 140 farms – mostly well run and modern, using modern technology to maximise efficiency and production. It runs 1.5 million stock units.
On 59 dairy farms it runs 55,000 cows producing about 20m kilograms of milk solids. Many farms are in clusters in the central North Island, Manawatu and the West Coast.
It runs large sheep and beef, and deer, farms and a breeding operation. Recently it launched a large scale sheep milking farm near Taupo, a joint venture with a private sector partner.
It has its own brand, Pamu, under which it markets high value products.
Landcorp has already sold some farms, and the news of the new ballot proposal seems in line with these recent sales – with the twist that its farms would be sold to young people.
Landcorp staff are thought likely to see the new scheme as their opportunity to own farms, given their qualifications, knowledge and experience. But it seems unlikely that any ‘flagship’ Landcorp operations and farms would be touched as some involve joint ventures and other commitments.
Previous calls to sell Landcorp prompted Prime Minister Bill English to say within the last year that, while Landcorp is a poor investment, the Government has no plans to sell it.