Outgro Industry News

Moar Farm Benefits

Driving up the scenic Pohangina Valley property, near Ashhurst, a narrow road frontage disguises a 270ha hidden gem. Garry Moar and his wife Raewyn, an ex-MAF technician, farm deer and cattle on the property which extends 4.5 km up into the foot of the Ruahine Ranges.

The block was purchased in 1997, and they embarked on a heavy DAP regime for 11 years. “When we first started putting on the DAP (125kg/ha), it just blew grass out of the ground, then 10 years later we were putting on 200 and getting no response, so I asked the fert rep, ‘what do I do?’ and he said ‘put more on!’.” Garry was not prepared to continue down a path which was leading him to lower performance levels, lower deer kill weights and a complete disappearance of clover in the paddocks. “The animal health bills were going up and up and up. I just didn’t seem to be getting on top of it. It was really depressing”. Garry, along with two of his neighbours stopped the use of DAP and began using lime and trialing other alternatives such as rock dusts, and blood and bone on various parts of the farm.

After witnessing another farmers success with the Outgro programme, Garry was inspired to visit Neil Armitage’s property at Patoka and was impressed by the marked difference between Neil’s farm and the surrounding area; “everything else was just yellow, and here is Neil’s, densewith clover on the 9th August”.

Shifting gears
In spring 2009 Garry started the Outgro programme, his more cautious manner led him to initially start the programme on just the deer unit, but after witnessing the changes in animal health, pasture composition and the reduction in grass grub and flea beetle, he put the whole farm on the programme last autumn.

“It just makes so much commonsense. It’s like lice on cattle, if they’re in good order, they get rid of them.” Garry strongly believes that “You’ve got to keep your wits about you. I’m scrupulously skeptical about all this stuff, yet I’m really taken with it in my first year”.

Garry was impressed with the sampling and how much information he picked up in the field with Corey, his Outgro consultant. “There was no stone left unturned. And some of the information we are now getting back is just mind boggling; my place just boomed into action earlier.” After being encouraged to dig more holes, Garry has also observed his earthworm numbers build rapidly from 4 to 34 in just 12 months and the clovers are now returning in force.

Flying over the farm with Jim, he has noticed visible differences during winter “seeing that our grass had started growing, 6 weeks before the neighbours is mind-blowing stuff.” With the entire property and two other farmers further up the valley now under the programme, Garry’s not concerned about running a control block, as one boundary has a 400 acre block with the same historical management for comparison, and the difference this winter was “striking ”.

This is the worst winter the distict has experienced in Garry’s time here, with an autumn drought leaving no cover right through winter. The hinds were run on southerly facing hills, which traditionally do better in summer, and even with the short covers Garry was able to carry far more stock, overwintering 17 su/ha on a 60 hectare block. The average rate in the district is around 10 su/ha , and in the past Garry has only carried 9, he has been astonished by the comfortable increase in stocking numbers.

The other changes that have built Garry’s confidence, are the transformations in his deer, “Usually only 10-15% of the deer would coat up. Well, last year they all went a rich red, just incredible and I didn’t have one that didn’t coat up.” This is also the first year Garry chose to not pregnancy test his yearlings, as he felt their health and responsiveness to the stag were so positive. The kill rates are still coming in, but Garry is confident he will get them all away before Christmas well above the 50 kg mark.

Garry also trades in cattle and fattens bulls. During my visit on the farm, moving the bulls was a quiet affair, and when I asked if he’d noticed a change in them, Garry lights up; “yea, yea, yea, they’re so much quieter! It’s just so interesting, they’re easier to handle and they don’t ride or dig holes. I see them every day and there’s something really interesting happening here”.

This is not the first approach Garry’s tried, but “I’m just so excited about this, it’s just shown me so many positives compared with everything else I’ve tried.” He feels that the shift on the farm with his pasture and animal health has been noticeable quickly, which in part may be attributed to the use of lime for 3 years before starting with Outgro. He’s spending more this year on inputs, and plans to do so for another few years but his long term focus is reduce this need for inputs. Outgro’s specific applications repair the valuable microbial bridge through the use of microbe friendly N and P, and the application of microbial inoculants. This fosters a process which builds soil carbon, increases the efficiency of fertiliser applications, unlocks stored phosphate reserves and helps to restore the natural nitrogen cycle.

For years Garry had been searching for better options, reading all the farming magazines, and talking to other farmers who told him they’d tried this approach years ago and it didn’t work, but as he’s is keen to point out, Outgro and their balanced approach have only been around for four years and the results are speaking for themselves.

With no family farm when he first started out, Garry knows the value of hard work and as he explains, “at the end of the day I’m a bottom line farmer” “Now I’m enjoying what I’m doing again and this year, if the schedule holds, we’re going to come out pretty tidy.”