We gain more from doing less – Richard and Laura Morrison

We are Richard and Laura Morrison from The Gullies, a 200ha (effective) sheep and beef farm in Rangitīkei, with a BnB on farm The Cottage at The Gullies and the newly launched The Gullies Arts Residency – and we focus constantly on long-term, environmentally-friendly improvements to the way we farm because we understand the importance of sustainability in our industry.

Sustainability is so much more than a buzzword to us, it is our modus operandi. Our pastures need to be utilised to full potential, so looking after our soils with different crops and root systems are key. Giving soils rest, planting out retired areas: while we are not regenerative farmers by label, we have adopted principles and applied them to our business.

We try to think about farming in a way that lessens the labour load, simplifies the system and enables us to optimise animal health and improve animal performance eg.:

  • using less inputs so we have more time to spend across the business and with loved one, and our dollar goes further
  • refining our system so that we have less supplementary feeding: this means we use less plastic wrap around baleage and use less diesel driving our machinery around feeding out
  • less dipping means less chemical on our animals destined for food tables
  • our sheep self-shed and therefore reduce the need for shearing and crutching
  • we use a drone for stock checks to reduce motorbike use on farm
  • we breed Hereford cattle which deliver on calving ease (more sleep for the farmer, less fuel used by farmer and vets in assisting, less strain and stress on cows)
  • and we work in with the dairy industry around the ‘Zero Bobby’ philosophy: the dairy-beef market is extremely important to a sustainable primary industry.

By adhering to a ‘quintuple’ bottom line, PPPEE: Planet, People, Profit, Ethics and Equity we cover as many bases as we can, and the outcome is that we gain more from doing less.

We have more time to spend planting new areas of native trees in our 60ha of native bush, to fence off our waterways, to identify land which could be suited to other uses, or be strengthened with other crops. We actively seek new ways to reduce labour for our physical and mental health, and to have more time to spend with our family.

We wish (a want, not a need) to give our sons a good education, to help them in their ventures (even if it isn’t farming!), to enjoy our time with loved ones, to eat well, to laugh, to stay warm in the winter and to have shelter in all seasons.

Photo credit: Florence Charvin Photographer