AgResearch to sell research farm after 72 years

Winchmore Research Station is being put on the market.
Winchmore Research Station is being put on the market. Photo credit: Supplied

A slice of New Zealand agriculture history is set to go up for sale, with AgResearch selling the Winchmore Research Station after 72 years.

Winchmore, north-west of Ashburton was originally purchased 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 grazing and arable site has contributed to more than 500 science publications.

AgResearch said a change in how research is carried out is behind the sale.

"Projects and priorities have changed in recent years, which has seen more research conducted on commercial farms or small-scale intensive research," said AgResearch Director of Infrastructure John O'Dea.

"This means the Winchmore site has primarily focused on the long term fertiliser trials," he said.

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

The property was purchased in 1946.
The property was purchased in 1946. Photo credit: AgResearch

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 said the site has been providing extremely useful information for almost 70 years.

"This has allowed us to track changes to pastoral land as agriculture evolves and supports our evidence base for sustainable management," said Ms Power.

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. 

"The combination of Lismore soils and spray irrigation at Winchmore will enable a wide range of future cropping and grazing options," Mr O'Dea said.

He said 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.

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 Rd, with the larger parcel of approximately 247 hectares to be sold on the open market. 

The farm will be offered for sale by deadline private treaty, with offers to be received by the end of February. 

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.