Nigel Gilkison, Southland

An enduring partnership.

Nigel Gilkison is the fourth generation to farm on his family's property in Southland, between Lumsden and Mossburn by the Oreti River. He has been on the property for over 20 years and his relationship with both Ballance and Farmlands has certainly lasted the distance. He says, “I have always dealt with Alister Gibson, at Farmlands, in fact he has been involved since my father’s time, and I have used Ballance the whole time I have been here.”

A family partnership, with Nigel as the manager and part owner, the farm includes two properties, of 880ha and 120ha respectively. Nigel runs 5,300 composite breed ewes, 400 hinds & 350 weaner deer, 355 dairy heifers (calves and R2 year olds) and winters 600 dairy cows. He also grows crops, this year around 12ha of fodder beet, 80ha of HT turnips and 20ha of ryecorn.

Nigel farms proactively, a necessity on the light soils. “We try to do the basics well, remembering that dry matter production is the overriding profit factor. When we get moisture in the ground we try and make the most of it by putting nitrogen on to keep the grass growing. I normally plan around the dry – there is usually more grass here around September than in December, so I lamb a bit earlier and try to get as many lambs away to the works at weaning time as possible.”

He is also willing to try out new ideas. “Alister is important to help us manage our grass and crops. He gives us plenty of ideas about the new things out, for example trying HT turnips to get on top of weeds in our turnips. He also gives us advice about which grass to use, regular crop maintenance, and what products to use for weeds and pests.”

Local Ballance representative, Gary Kirkman, is also an essential part of the operation. “I need Gary’s advice to steer me in the right direction, otherwise you are just guessing.” Nigel says, “Fertiliser is a costly input so you need an expert to help you make the right decisions. We do regular soil testing here, and I chew the fat with Gary and my consultant and we work out the most cost effective and best value for money fertiliser to put on.” Strong partnerships, along with proactive management and an eye to the future, are clearly what make this farming business tick.