Day Seven

Time for a change of scenery. There has been the tail end of a cyclone coming through, and there were very strong winds forecasted. I was a bit worried that my flight from Wellington to Christchurch would be cancelled, but in the end it was a bit of a non-event. NZ weather forecasting is a similar quality to that in the UK.

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The drive down to Peter Hobbs’s (known to some as JD-Kid) and his wife Helen’s farm is through some rather spectacular scenery. Seriously, just look at this for a view:

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Stunning view over the bay

It really does remind me of Scotland. But wait, it get’s even better just over the next hill.

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Breathtaking peaks soar overhead

The entrance to Peter’s farm reminds me of the lyrics to Hotel California.

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You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave

OK, that’s enough silliness for now.

I cannot repeat much of what they told me this afternoon, as the slander laws are pretty tight here, and I don’t want to land Peter in any hot water.

On the way out I noticed a soil test result on his kitchen table, and being nosey, I had a look. I couldn’t imagine a much more different result to the ones we have at home. It was from an Albrecht lab, and the results were basically this (from memory – I should have taken a photo)

  • Calcium 36%
  • Magnesium 16%
  • Potassium 5%
  • Hydrogen 33%
  • The sodium was also very high, from all the salt water spray

That’s fairly wacky IMO (sorry for the 99.9% of people out there not interested in base saturations). Neil Kinsey says “There is no soil you cannot fix, but you may run out of money, or time”. Our’s at home fits this description, and so does Peter’s. The recommendation was for 10t/ha of lime, and 2.5t/ha of various goodies, magnesium mainly, plus other bits. The cost – NZ$1,600/ha (that’s £800). Then you need to pay for an airplane to spread it. Fine on a high value crop, but this is extensive sheep land. [Edit: These results come after 7t/ha of lime, so the problem would have been even more extreme originally]

It is a  tricky situation, as they are getting Molybdenum lockup, which makes the lambs’ bones very brittle, and root nodulation on legumes is suffering too. [Edit: the brittle bones was down to a copper deficiency  probably caused by an interaction between Molybdenum, and excess Sulphur from some applied AS] I did try and convince them to do a trial on one paddock, but I don’t think they bought it.

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The cloud did lift at the house, and I almost got a proper view. Is that the Antarctic you can just see on the horizon?

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