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THE GREENFIELD ESTATE., Tuapeka Times, Issue 1304, 27 November 1886
THE GREENFIELD ESTATE.
(Bt Our Own Reporter.) (CoiichuUd.) Though rather early in the season to judge of the producing capabilities of Greenfield— the riohness of its pastures and the excellence of its orops — still, matters were sufficiently forward at the time of my viait to enable one to form a tolerably correct idea of the property when everything Is ripe and flourishing. A drive round the estate— a journey of no mean distance— will enable the visitor to form an estimate of the vast amount of work whioh such a large holding entails. There is some sort of a theory afloat that large holdings of land cannot be profitably, nor yet properly, worked ; but here, sure enough, is *n illunlration of the success of big holdings, and the possibility of turn- , ing every acre to account. No matter where one turns on Greenfield, he is consulted with improvement in some form. Compared with the generality of Otago runs, this country is level— it is what is usually described as undulating, with short round knolls with abrupt depressions between. When first taken in hand, the land was covered with a dense scrub, which required a lot of cleaving and burni ing off— a work attended with no small amount of trouble and expense— and the once boundless expanse of manuka and tussock has now given place to a close, thiok sward of beautiful pasture, carrying and fattening large herds of wool-produo-ing stock. Thoce who remember this district twenty years ago (I cannot lay claim to the honour) would have some difficulty in realising that such a sweeping transformation had taken place in such a brief space of time ; and all effected by one proprietor. During my visit a large number of teams were hard at work breaking up some 1400 acres of lea land
and otherwise preparing it for turnips. A gentle rotation is adopted to keep the ground in good heart ; for, rioh as the soil is, it is found that the pasture begins to fail after being laid down some seven or eight years, and an interval in root orops has a very stimulating effeot. No manure is ever used here, for an easy rotation does more than will constant manuring to keep the soil in first-class condition. The lea land whioh 1 saw under treatment, was undergoing a regular process. Having been harrowed down, it was broken up immediately, to keep the grass from rising ; after which it was allowed to lie for months. Then it is grubbed and treated to two turns of disc harrows, after whioh it is again harrowed and then rolled. Then the seed is applied, and the ohaln harrows having been run over it, it is finished. All this treatment, which some people would think extravagant and unnecessary, costs about 14s an acre ; but Mr Smith's prinoiple is that to receive a liberal return from the soil it moat firat be treated liberally, and bis success may be quoted as an example of the advantages derived from early training in the theory and practice of agriculture. The estate carries on an average something like 40,000 sheep all the year round, which of course entails careful provision in the matter of feeding. In addition to the pasture, there is always a large area in turnips, supplemented by bulky patches of oats, sown among the turnips, and which are cut on the ground and distributed in the feed boxes dispersed at regular interval^ over the property. In this way the stock is well provided for during the winter; and the turnips are also used for fattening when large consignments are to be prepared for the Home market. Already this year, Greenfield has passed through the freezing chamber 12,000 fat sheep, and a further lot of 4,000 will be sent to England by the Elderslie in December. Though wool is the principal item on an estate like this, the frozen meat trade has proved a great boon to most of our runholders ; and had it not been for its timely creation, many of our sheep farmers must have felt the depression still more keenly. The wool olip from this station most be among the largest in Otago. Last year 40,000 sheep were shorn, and this year about an equal number will be put through. The recent rise in wool must have meant a very considerable sum to Otago alone. For the eighteen months prior to the rise, wool had fallen something like 3d a lb, which on this one property would mean a loss of nearly £4,000. The flock is mostly comprised of the Leicester-merino cross, whioh appears to do exceptionally well. Beyond what is required for feed, very little cropping has been done at Greenfield of late years. Not but that the soil is rioh enough to raise almost any crop in luxuriance, but wheat-cropping at recent quotations does not pay ; and, sgain, harvesting on a large property like this is attended with great risk and trouble. As an instance of the growing capabilities of the soil here, I might mention that a wheat crop raised not long since averaged sixty bushels to the acre, while a crop of grass-seed averaged fifty-five bushels, and a crop of oats eighty bushels to the acre. The usual average, however, is sixty bushels to the acre, which is by no means small. Mr Smith has raised as much a3 26,000 bushels of grass-seed in one year. The recent advance in the price of chaff he<i induced many settlers to go in largely for oat-growing, and Greenfield this year will have a very large area under this cereal. It is intended to send about 300 tons of chaff to Dunedin, and about 1000 tons will be prepared for home consumption. The crop is staoked on the ground and carefully thatched, and in this way kept perfeotly dry until required. One of Andrews and Beaven's patent double automatio baggers is used, and the machine will finish off as much as 20 tons a day, or 200 bags. The chaff brings £4 12s 6d a ton in Dunedin ; but, of course, the freight is considerable. It ooiti 13s a ton to Brag it from the station to Waitshuna, and 6a a ton by rail to Dunedin, thus leaving a balance of £3 13s 6d to the producer, which pays by no means badly. Rape being capital feeding stuff is also gone in for, and this year there will be about TOO acres in this orop alone. When the work of sub-dividing was first commenced, the ditch-and-Kank was greatly in favour as the most permanent and useful form of fence procurable, but since the rabbits have converted these banks into so many miles of warrens, it has been found necessary to level them to the ground, and this work is now going on. wire fenoing being substituted. While passing over the estate, I was greatly surprised at the remarkable scarcity of rabbits. Indeed, I travelled for miles and never saw a single bunny ; but I was given to understand that they existed by the thousand nevertheless, being mostly confined, at least in the daytime, to the gullies and other sheltered places. A large party of rabbiters are kept constantly engaged, and the pest is in this way kept under, though I do not suppose the rabbits will ever be completely eradicated. Before dosing this necessarily brief and somewhat indifferent notice of this really grand property, I would just like to add that if all New Zealand runholders were as enterprising as Messrs James Smith and Sons, and turned their holdings to such profitable account both to themselves and the country, our politicians and anti-monopolists would soon be deprived of any reasonable ground upon whioh to found their extraordinary theories, and might be induced to rest content with what they could not improve upon. ______________
The Napier News says of the intention of the Minister for Lands to introduce a bill next session having for its object the opening up for settlement of large estates : — " The principle of the bill is that under the Mutual Provident Societies Act of 1868, we believe, settlers may form them' selves into registered associations, and may apply to the Governraeut for a block of land on any private run. The owner of the run or block of land applied for will be entitled to seleot 600 to 1000 acres on any part of hia estate, and the Government will have power by very simple machinery to take the balance of the land for settlement purposes paying not more than 10 per cent, on the property tax valuation. Such s> prinoiple will also go a great way to prevent frauds at preoent prepetrated on the Property Tax Department by absurdly low values being sent in. Qn the Government acquiring the land required by the association, it will be subdivided'into village sections ranging from two to ten acres. The land will be opened for settlement under the special settlement regulations and perpetual lease olauaes of the Land Act. The principle has been praotfcally affirmed by the House in the Land Act of 1885, and we have little doubt that, seeing the imperative need for such a measure, the yroposed bill will pass through the House,
THE GREENFIELD ESTATE., Tuapeka Times, Issue 1304, 27 November 1886
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