About the farm
Willesden Farm is a 5,500 hectares sheep and beef property on Banks Peninsula, Canterbury. The property is owned by Wongan Hills Ltd and managed by Matt Iremonger. Approximately 1,200 ha is flat and cultivatable while the remainder is mostly moderate to steep hill country. Rainfall and altitude can vary significantly within a short distance on this property. Annual rainfall ranges from 550 to 1,100 mm while altitude goes from sea level to above 850 m above sea level.
What is being trialed and why?
One of the Hill Country Futures experiments is located is cultivatable, rolling downs at two altitudes 20 or 175 meters above sea level. At each altitude there are paired exclosure cages with one located on an improved area with lucerne and the other on an unimproved pasture of mainly weed grasses with a little ryegrass and white clover. The cages are monitored by field technician Malcolm Smith, form Dryland Pasture team, Lincoln University. Currently, measurements consist of pasture growth by harvesting quadrats from exclosure cages. Harvests were taken on 22 May, 27 September and 3 December 2019 and also on the 27 January 2020. Since the cages were placed on the 14 February 2019 the improved lucerne pasture has accumulated 14 tDM/ha more than twice the 5.4 tDM/ha for the unimproved pasture.
Monitoring sensor networks for soil temperature and soil moisture have also been established on this farm. The temperature and soil moisture sensors are placed at a depth of 30 cm. These sensor networks record data in onboard storage and report back to cloud storage via a gateway site to the cell phone data network. The data from these sensor networks are being used to test capability to map the spatial pattern of both temperature and moisture across complex hill country landscapes and relate this to productivity models for legumes.
Photos of harvests on Willesden