The LandWISE MicroFarm is on an easily accessed 4ha site in the middle of the Heretaunga Plains. Run as a ‘real’ farm, the MicroFarm’s paddocks are small, but conventional tractors and equipment are used with best practice. New systems thinking is encouraged.
A steering group of farmers, technologists, service providers and researchers oversees the MicroFarm, determining strategic and tactical management. Farm facilities are complemented by offices and a seminar facility for effective extension. A manager oversees implementation and extension.
The Heretaunga Plains has a history of increased intensification that shows no sign of lessening. Recognised for generations as the “Food Basket”, many of its paddocks show symptoms of heavy cropping with little fallow time for repair. Other key districts fare the same.
We have increasing demand for food, urban and industrial encroachment reducing the area available for food production, water, nutrient and energy supplies peaking and climate extremes increasing.
Maximum production with minimum footprint
Complex changes are needed to achieve short and long term environmental and economic sustainability. New techniques and technologies must be proven, and farmers supported to adopt them.
This scaled-down version of a cropping farm is demonstrating maximum food production with maximum soil care and maximum input efficiency.
Demonstration farms can aid effective technology transfer. Essential ingredients include a mission that attracts interest, intellectually well-resourced support and adequate funding, and a range of ancillary activities to extend knowledge to a wide audience.
The MicroFarm is lauded for its development and demonstration of best farm practice for resilient cropping systems and environmental safety. Adequately resourced with strong farm, industry and research partnerships, the MicroFarm actively encourages discussion and application and refining of cropping systems, technologies and techniques in an integrated farm system.
Its discussion groups, trials and demonstrations are the base for broader dissemination activities, education and training. Web technologies are used to make virtual access available to people in other regions.