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No. 24 (October 1958)
– 54 –

THE HOME GARDEN
SUPPLEMENTARY CROPPING ON
DAIRY FARMS FOR PROFIT

Many people are at present farming an ‘uneconomical’ unit, that is to say, the area that is available for dairying is smaller than the average dairy farm, Anything under eighty acres in good country is termed uneconomical, for the reason that insufficient income is derived to cover the cost of capital outlay, interest, rates, maintenance, etc., and since butterfat returns to the farmer have dropped, some notes on the ways and means of increasing the income from smaller areas could be to advantage. The established farmer, on what is termed an economical area, could often get the most advantage by spending extra time on pasture management and good farm husbandry.

However let us look at the small farmer milking from twenty-five to thirty cows. According to the district and suitability of climate, he must plan his future activities. Taking the Northern half of the North Island as an example, farmers would be well advised to take stock of their pasture, and any areas of up to three acres which are not responding to normal topdressings and are showing a burnt out appearance, could be turned over and profitably cropped during the forthcoming season. Potatoes and kumaras are always in demand. Carrots are also a very profitable crop, and in the Northern districts an acre set aside for citrus and tree tomatoes can often supplement the farmer's income, to make his dairying venture far more attractive.

As an instance, one Maori farmer, although milking over fifty cows on eight acres and producing 16,000lbs of butterfat per annum, always makes an effort to crop at least two acres of his land each year. His field crops consist of pumpkins, kumaras and potatoes, whilst in the home garden he has a regular supply of greens such as lettuce, cauliflowers and cabbages as well as onions for winter use, with carrots sown in January to tide him over the winter months. It is conservatively estimated that this person, not having to purchase vegetables for his family, could add fifty pounds to his income. Potatoes and kumaras are stored, pumpkins are harvested, and distributed to merchants when prices are economical, and it could reliably be estimated that this farmer's income from cropping as a side line from a couple of acres, would be in the vicinity of one hundred and fifty pounds after taking into consideration his family requirements and his generous donations of produce to tangis, huis, and other social functions.

Therefore, with sound planning and forethought, those Maoris who are facing the future possibly a little disheartened with their present income, could improve their financial returns if prepared to interest themselves in horticultural activities.

The demand for vegetable produce is increasing and it is to be hoped that the Maori people will in many instances take advantage of the possibilities of horticulture as a side line.

It is recognised that the cost of renewing pasture after having been cropped for one or two years is excessive and many farmers are undoubtedly reluctant to commence cropping operations owing to this factor. While turning over pasture that has only recently been sown and consolidated would be foolish, on fully established farms there is often a definite need for renewing pastures. It is there that horticulture can provide greater production from the land today, which is most essential.