Decades of service but Winchmore grazing, arable block to be sold off

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Photos (Ashburton Museum): Top, the first building was a former US Army Hospital intended for use in the Pacific, but never used. This building was obtained from the War Assets Realisation Board and served until the 1980s. Below, yards and border-dyking at the Winchmore site.

After 72 years of contributing to local and regional research, AgResearch’s grazing and arable research station at Winchmore, north of Ashburton, is to be sold.

Winchmore was originally bought in 1946 with a focus on providing local research into the use of border dyke irrigation. Long term fertiliser trials were started in the 1950s and together the site has contributed to more than 500 science publications.

AgResearch director of infrastructure John O’Dea says, changed in recent years, which has seen more research conducted on commercial farms or small scale intensive research. This means the Winchmore site has primarily focused on the long-term fertiliser trials.

The 4.1-hectare fertiliser trial has been in place since the 1950s, and will continue operating beyond the sale of the farm.

The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand has signed a 35-year lease with AgResearch to ensure the long-term fertiliser research trials at Winchmore continue.

Chief executive of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand Vera Power says, providing extremely useful information for almost 70 years now.

changes to pastoral land as agriculture evolves and supports our evidence base for sustainable management.

Winchmore’s fertiliser trials are New Zealand’s longest running fertiliser trials under pasture. They complement the other long-term fertiliser trial, on North Island Hill Country, near the Manawatu Gorge.

soils and spray irrigation at Winchmore will enable a wide range of future cropping and grazing options. Modern de-stoning technology now means the stony Lismore soils are regarded as some of the most sought after and productive soils for intensive vegetable and arable production, Mr O’Dea says.

Crops on farm this season include potatoes, wheat, barley, maize, peas and specialist seed crops, with a small area retained in lucerne and permanent pasture. Historically, the farm had limited winter-forage cropping, and was primarily used as a grazing property.

Originally 308 hectares, the farm is being subdivided into two parcels, either side of the Dromore Methven Road, with the larger parcel of approximately 247 hectares to be sold on the open market.

Winchmore provides a range of buildings from offices, meeting rooms, workshop and implement sheds, to a woolshed and covered yards, and a new set of cattle yards with a concrete base.

The farm will be offered for sale by deadline private treaty, with offers to be received by the end of February (if not sold prior).

In 2017, Winchmore’s irrigation was upgraded from border dyke (flood) irrigation to overhead sprinkler irrigation, in line with the transition across Canterbury to more water efficient irrigation systems.

enable AgResearch to invest in its wider research facilities, and thus continue driving prosperity by transforming agriculture, Mr O’Dea says.

Photos (Ashburton Museum): Top, the first building was a former US Army Hospital intended for use in the Pacific, but never used. This building was obtained from the War Assets Realisation Board and served until the 1980s. Above and right, yards and border-dyking at the Winchmore site.