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Born and bred in a dairy farm in Manawatu, Les Rowlands cultivated a passion for farming and horticulture at an early age. The Taihape farmer has gathered a world of knowledge by working as a lab technician at the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute and completing an Applied Science degree in Horticulture & Environmental Science before traveling to Scotland to work in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry.
Today, he stands tall on his glorious steep hill country farm in Taihape for this interview with the Boost Agriculture channel. Rowlands has been successfully farming sheep and beef for several years thanks to Taupo-based fertiliser company Uptake’s exceptional products and services.
From his experience of growing seed potatoes in Europe, Rowlands discovered the struggles of efficient farming. “I learned about the nuances of running a good coherent system and making sure that the soils were correct for [the seed potato crops] and therefore the subsequent treatment of those crops,” says Rowlands. “It was very important in developing those ideas around agriculture and how to work in an integrated system.”
After returning to New Zealand, Rowlands was grateful to have developed a strong friendship with Uptake’s Taupo-based owner John Davis, who has been an expert at providing solutions to critical farming issues. “At that time, I had problems where I had lambs that were coming in with sway backs,” says Rowlands. “I knew what the problem was, but I didn’t know how to get a delivery system that would overcome the issue, and in my discussions with John I realised that he may have a system.”
The severe issue with Rowlands’ unhealthy lambs had stemmed from a lack of copper. Uptake’s outstanding consultation services and fertiliser systems solved several of Rowlands’ problems and proved to be significantly beneficial for animal health in the long-term which produced favourable results for the farm.
Rowlands perceives the future of farming to be a huge challenge due to the impacts of climate change and the pressure of having eco-friendly and sustainable operations. Environmental friendliness is one of his core values which is why he actively seeks expert advice from Uptake for sustainable land management.
“I consider myself a carbon farm because I’m trying to add carbon that is in the form of organic material to the soil profile and I use specific fertilising programs and management programs to make sure that carbon remains there and that the soil structure is strong enough to withstand the weather patterns,” says Rowlands. “I use products like Uptake as part of that incremental management system that I use.”
Rowlands puts an emphasis on professional soil testing and enjoys being included in discussions about different application systems. “[John and I] had long and involved conversations about what should be in the product to try and mitigate some of the issues we farmers were facing out in the field. It was a relief to find a system that would give you another tool in dealing with some of these issues.”
Uptake’s mission, as described by owner John Davis, is simple: quality over quantity. He firmly believes that the “more is better” philosophy is made redundant in the light of proven results; good nutrition passing from the soil, to the plants it grows, to the animals the plants feed. The benefits will also eventually pass to the farmers themselves, and of course, to the consumers they supply.
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