More in the tank to boost production

Tim and Binds White have knocked over a big prize by winning this year’s Keinzley Ag Wairarapa Sheep & Beef Farm Business of the Year Award.

In Business4 Minutes


Tim and Binds White have knocked over a big prize by winning this year’s Keinzley Ag Wairarapa Sheep & Beef Farm Business of the Year Award, but they aren’t ready to take their foot off the accelerator just yet.

Both in their early fifties and with two daughters in their early twenties (Maggie and Grace), the pair only started full-time farming a decade ago.

They see plenty of upside in farming their 420ha (effective) property Upperwood, at Matahiwi just northwest of Masterton, and feel it still has potential to produce 30% more meat and wool over its already impressive 300kg/ha in their 2021/22 financial year.

“This property has potential to get to 400kg/ha, but we would need to change our system to do that.

“How hard we chase it will come down to how much we invest in more man hours, more intensification and more use of things like Farmax to help us manage the feed budget.”

Tim says they would have to go back to bulls and shifting hot wires, fewer ewes, more trading stock and more nitrogen used strategically. Also more cropping so they could lift their stocking rate over the summer months.

“We’ve got soil fertility about okay in the mid-twenties but we’d need to lift pH, do more drainage and subdivision to get to that level of performance.”

He’s confident of producing 400kg/ ha of product off the easier country, but says the challenge would be the medium hill third of the farm that’s producing 250kg/ha of product.

At $6/kg, 400kg/ha of meat and wool would generate a gross farm revenue (GFR) from stock of $2400/ha, 50% higher than Upperwood’s class-topping 2021/22 GFR of $1748/ha.

Tim says the downsides from higher performance included more internal worm burden, pugging issues, with more older cattle and more environmental challenges.

“It would be a roller coaster ride for sure, and we’re enjoying what we’re doing now.”

Tim says the performance and system is in a good “spot”.

“But we’ll ponder how hard we chase the next production lift.”

For the next five years, Tim wants to stay actively farming Upperwood before slowly exiting the day-to-day labour contribution he makes now.

Upperwood is their biggest single investment. It has multiple titles, plenty of road frontage and lots of new planting. Being so close to town, selling off some land is always a backstop.

The Whites have stuck with the primary sector with other investments, including shares in kiwifruit and Rockit apple orchards, a coolstore and two poultry sheds. They also have a shareholding in a commercial building and have developed a large portfolio of shares and fixed-rate bonds.

However it is not all work. Time for travelling and enjoying the outdoors, particularly ski-ing, remains a priority for them both.

  • Read more on the Whites’ farming operation p44.