Regenerative farming kōrero in Kaikōura

In July, Kaikōura’s first regenerative farming event drew interest from farmers, vintners, and industry professionals across the South Island.

The event was hosted by local regenerative farming awareness platform Agregenz and sponsored by the North Canterbury Rural support Trust and the Organic Dairy and Pastoral Group. Kaikōura Plains Recovery Project also supported the event.

Small beginnings to large learnings

John king, Tony Blunt, Sky Horton, Hamish Bielski and James Costello

John king, Tony Blunt, Sky Horton, Hamish Bielski and James Costello

Sky Horton, of Agregenz, was astonished with how much interest there was in regenerative farming, once she started asking around.

"It quickly turned into an event with more than 90 farmers interested," she said.

“My ‘ah-ha’ moment was while standing in a paddock that was being sprayed with insecticide; having to run out of the paddock so the chemicals didn’t harm us. It just felt so wrong that we were growing food in an ecosystem that we were poisoning.

“I started studying the possibilities of farming without chemicals, which led me to regenerative farming.

"Now I want to encourage other farmers that there is a way to farm that produces a healthier result with nature in mind.

“Connecting with others who felt the same way has been crucial and the excellent turn-out and diverse range of backgrounds of participants shows how relevant regenerative farming is right now,” Horton says.

Speakers from Otago, Hawarden and Kaikōura delivered presentations focusing on personal journeys into regenerative farming, regenerative farming practices on-farm, and farming to build soil biology and carbon.

Locals take up the opportunity

Kaikōura Plains Recovery Project (KPRP) covered the cost for local dairy farmers to attend.

KRRP Project Manager Jodie Hoggard says regenerative farming methods sit well with what the KPRP is all about – adapting farming methods to fit the changing landscape and sharing.

“We believe the regenerative farming principles help farmers think about positioning their business for future gains, innovation, better water use and efficiency, environmental benefits and most importantly, resilience.

“The event helped demystify the methods and confirmed there is no one recipe to fit all farms,” Hoggard says.

Knowledge shared

John king, Tony blunt, Hamish Bielski, James Costello

John king, Tony blunt, Hamish Bielski, James Costello

Among the feedback from participants was that the event provided an opportunity to talk to other regeneratively minded farmers and that it had a good mix of speakers that focused on the principles, rather than the ‘how-tos’.

One participant noted; “My take-home points are to systematise and simplify to be profitable.”

Local Kaikōura farmer, Councillor and Kaikōura Water Zone Committee member Tony Blunt was pleased that new and innovative ideas are weaving their way into farming practice.

“Regenerative farming is a bit of a hot topic at the moment, so I hope that the event provided everyone with context and experience to help them understand,” he says.

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