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No 3. (Summer 1953)
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FARMING NOTES

FIELD DAY FOR MAORI FARMERS

The annual field day for Maori farmers and their wives, which is held under the auspices of the Department of Maori Affairs, was this year held at Ruakura Animal Research Station.

The party was conducted over all sections of the station. At No. 1 Dairy the importance of shutting up paddocks for autumn-saved pasture was stressed. This section of 125 acres, which has an annual dressing of 2 cwt. of serpentine super an acre, is carrying 110 dairy cows and 34 replacement stock. The production figures were in the vicinity of 350 lbs. of butterfat an acre.

At No. 2 Dairy the party was shown the newly completed cowshed, and also a pit of ensilage. This unit is divided into two sections of equal merit. One section is run in what the Director, Dr McMeekin, described as typical ‘cow-cocky’ style, where the farm is run under the set stock system of eight paddocks, day paddock, hay paddock and a calf paddock. The other section is divided into small paddocks, and is rotationally grazed, with calves preceding the cows. The difference between the two sets of calves was very striking, the rotationally-grazed calves being well ahead of the setstocked males in health, vigour and body weight. The difference between the two lots of butterfat returns was also very marked, the rotationally-grazed cows showing an average difference of 40 lb a head above the set-stock cows.

In the afternoon, the party moved on to the animal nutrition section—No. 4 Dairy, where the experimental work on identical twin calves is conducted. Next, to the piggeries—where the importance of feeding meal from very early in the pig's life was stressed.

Thence on to the AI Centre, and finally a tour through the stock and cattle section, where the party was told of the experimental work being carried out on the many problems of the sheep farm.

Mr Jones, on behalf of the party, thanked Dr McMeekin for the very informative and instructive day, and said he hoped it would be the forerunner to many more such occasions.

BETTER PASTURES ON COAST FARMS

An awakening of interest in their pasture problems among the Maori farmers of the East Coast led to the arranging of a series of talks by Mr T. A. Sellwood, instructor in agriculture for the East Coast district, who has undertaken to address the tribal committees at Ruatoria, Waiomatatini, Tikitiki, Te Araroa and Hicks Bay.

The first meeting was well attended. The address was entitled ‘The Improvement of Hill-country Pastures’, and other matters of interest to the gathering were discussed informally—Gisborne Herald.

HISTORY OF MAORI BATTALION

The writing of the Official War History of 28 (Maori) Battalion has been commissioned. Mr J. F. Cody, who is doing the work, has recently compiled 21 Battalion official history. He mentioned that the history would be more realistic if ex-members of the Battalion made any diaries, letters or photos they may possess available to him. Anybody interested in helping to make the 28 (Maori) Battalion History a volume worthy of the deeds it portrays should write to him at 33 Burma Road, Khandallah, Wellington.

PASTURES IN FLAX PLANTATIONS

Experiments at the Moutoa flax plantations near Shannon have demonstrated that, with proper cultivation, flax can yield up to 60 tons an acre, the usual figure being 35-40 tons. Even this compares remarkably well with the output from natural, uncultivated stands, which varies from 10 to 15 tons.

Haulage gear and handling facilities have been mechanised successfully at Moutoa, and machines are being developed for flax cutting. At present it is possible for one man to harvest up to 60 acres a day, and with the aid of mechanical harvesters this might be increased to 80.

These discoveries have made many formerly useless swamp lands an economic proposition. Part of the change has been achieved through the use of stock. Sheep have been grazed, almost to the maximum carrying capacity, on the pasture between flax plants.—Straight Furrow.

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