TeenAg field trip teaches Kaikoura students about healthy soils

Posted by on 2 April 2019 | Comments

Tags: ,

Climbing behind the controls of a digger on a farm has helped teach a group of Kaikoura students about soil structures.

Members of Kaikoura High School’s fledgling TeenAg club went on a field trip to Matt Hedley’s property last week.

The 1300 hectare farm, north of Cheviot, runs 3500 ewes, 150 breeding cows and eight broodmares.

“Matt’s farm sits on a clay pan, which causes drainage issues when it’s wet,” said teacher Paul Threadgill.

“He showed us how he’s putting in culverts and spreading lime to loosen up the clay pan to improve drainage.”

Paul teaches agriculture, horticulture, science and social studies at Kaikoura High School.

“We’re a bit light on resources to effectively teach students about soils without practical examples,” said Paul.

“Opportunities like those provided by Matt Hedley are a gold mine for helping to translate the theory.”

“The trip was an ideal opportunity to show students some of the techniques used to gauge soil structure and quality.”

Healthy soils play a vital role in a farm’s pasture production and overall productivity.

Students watched a digger place a large culvert under a track leading to the farm’s woolshed and sheep yards.

One-by-one they were then shown how to safely use the digger to dig a hole to analyse the soil in a flat paddock.

“It was a really cool experience, especially for the kids who had never operated a digger before,” said Year 12 student Henry Bartrum.

Henry set up the school’s TeenAg club last September, with the help of teacher Paul Threadgill and David Highsted from NZ Young Farmers.

“This was our first field trip for the year, we went on several last year,” said Henry, who’s the club’s chair.

“One of the trips included visiting a dairy farm where we got to help milk the cows and feed the calves.”

“My aim is to organise field trips which are fun, educational and give our club members new experiences,” he said.

Henry is studying agriculture and hopes to secure a coveted spot in one of the country’s farm-based cadet training schemes.

TeenAg clubs are a key part of the work being done by NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) to attract students into the agri-food sector.

They’re run by NZYF and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).