Lake Hawea Station.

Image Credit

Regenerative Farming.

26 February 2022.

Our partners over at ZQ Merino visited one of our New Zealand Sheep Stations last week. They sat down with Geoff Ross, owner of Lake Hawea Station, to talk about what Regenerative Farming is and how him and his team implement it on their property. Challenge: How many bleats can you here in the background?

"Soil is so important and in many ways it is the forgotten part of a farming system. 
We so often concentrate on what’s above the ground we forget what’s below it." 


Geoff Ross, owner of LHS.

What is regenerative farming to you?

There (thankfully) is a lot of talk about regenerative farming.
There are many definitions to this term. Mine is that regenerative farming is based on  what nature has done and perfected over millions and millions of years to create balance. To achieve balance nature has used diversity. Diversity of plants and species to find natural solutions to the constant flow in the environment we live in. That to me is what regenerative farming at Lake Hawea Station is. We have the lush diversity. So you don’t need sprays, you don’t need chemical fertilisers. You have that diversity and that balance through a very natural system. It is also healthier for the stock and very healthy for the soil.



What is the role of soil in regenerative farming?


Soil is so important and in many ways it is the forgotten part of a farming system. We so often concentrate on what’s above the ground we forget what’s below it. The United Nations issued a report around 4 years ago which said that if we increase by 0.4% a year the quantity of carbon contained in soils, we will bring carbon levels in the atmosphere to what they were before the industrial age. It’s a massive contribution that soil can make. With our soil testing here at LHS, we discovered that in a year we can sequester 1% in soil carbon. Ideally we can take this type of system to many other soils around the world and we can play a huge part in solving the climate crisis. 

Lake Hawea Station, New Zealand.

What is the key practice for LHS in Regenerative Farming?

The key practice for us in Regenerative Farming is really about our pastures. Multi-species pastures. For decades, when I grew up, it was all about monocultures or geocultures. Rye and Clover grass here in New Zealand are a prominent pasture type. What we are doing is planting pastures that have at least 30 different seeds. So every plant has a role. Not just in feeding the livestock but also in feeding the soil. For too long agronomy has been about chemistry. Regenerative agriculture is about biology rather than what you need to pour onto the soil in a chemical form. We are looking at bacteria. At fungi. Their relationship and the balance between them. What we are finding is that with less inputs we can actually produce more and that has been the really cool thing about regenerative farming.

Ee are putting down a lot of regenerative pastures, multi species pastures. They will be peaking around May or June. Right now it is pretty warm and lush, come May and June and here it’s very cold, it’s very frosty, the ground is almost frozen. So by that time we will have pastures that are going to be in full lush. It’s going to be like a salad bar for the stock and it is going to help them get through the winter. So right now we are getting those pastures into the ground. Getting water in them to make sure they will be in perfect conditions in a few months time. 




What are some differences between Regenerative Farming and traditional farming?

For many years, and in the system I grew up in, we’d plow the soil, and then till it to get it in a very fine form because that would allow new plants to get root structure through the soil much easier. But with regenerative faming you don’t need to plow to get that result. The plants do it for you. So that’s actually the role of a sunflower, for instance. Their root structure is creating pathways, liquid carbon pathways, sequestering it from the environment and getting it down into the soil. Creating pathways for other plants to follow as well. So we don’t need massive tractors riding over the land for hours when we have a plant like a sunflower who is building those pathways into the soil for us.

Some of the actions we are doing every day is not tilling the soil. We don’t turn over and break up the soil. So no more plowing. We drill seeds directly into the soil and keep that organic matter there. We are actually starting to scale compost, you know we all have some compost into our backyard, so we are trying to see how we can scale that up for 6.5 thousand hectares. We are trialling Biochar as well. A charcoal-like substance that's made by burning organic material from agricultural and forestry waste. All different ways of feeding that healthy soil and making it stronger.



What’s the role of farmers in reversing the Climate Crisis?

Well the world needs more food and fiber. More natural food and fiber. Farming is tough. I am relatively new to it, I grew up in a farm but I am relatively new to it. Farming is a tough livelihood, it’s relentless, it’s in your face everyday. There are so many dynamics. Many of which you can’t plan for. Farmers now see themselves under a spotlight, in a way they have never seen themselves before. The pressure is greater. But rather than seeing that as a problem as farmers, I think we need to see this as an opportunity. Extensive farming systems like the ones at LHS are actually climate positive. We sequester more carbon here than we emit. Therefore we play an active role in changing the route this planet is on. Perhaps amongst all that pressure, farmers can see that opportunity. I hope we can move from being seen as villains to heroes in the climate battle.

Two of the biggest sectors in the world contributing to climate change are Fashion and Agriculture. If you look at what Sheep Inc have done - not are doing - but have done, is creating a carbon positive position. They have demonstrated that fashion does not need to be contributing to the climate crisis. It can be part of the solution. What we are trying to do at LHS is something similar but in the agricultural sector. We are fortunate to have a big canvas to work with, we have a lot of vegetation that is sequestering a lot of carbon and we have an extensive pastural system. That is creating a natural fiber that, like Sheep Inc., is playing a role in dealing with the climate crisis.

Lake Hawea Station.

Regenerative Farming.

26 February 2022

Our partners over at ZQ Merino visited one of our New Zealand Sheep Stations last week. They sat down with Geoff Ross, owner of Lake Hawea Station, to talk about what Regenerative Farming is and how him and his team implement it on their property.
Challenge: How many bleats can you here in the background?

"Soil is so important and in many ways it is the forgotten part of a farming system. 
We so often concentrate on what’s above the ground we forget what’s below it." 


"Soil is so important and in many ways it is the forgotten part of a farming system. 
We so often concentrate on what’s above the ground we forget what’s below it." 


Grace, can you introduce youself to the Flock?
Hey! I'm Grace Mahary, fashion model, sommelier, and founder of non-profit Project Tsehigh/PjT.

How did PjT start?
On a trip visiting family in Eritrea, I experienced power shortages and encountered heavy duty pollutants from the diesel generators being used for electricity; thus, I decided to create PjT, a nonprofit dedicated to providing renewable energy solutions to under-served communitites.

What project do you currently focus on?
PjT currently focuses on solar energy projects around the world. We just completed facilitating solar powered street lamps for basketball courts in Burkina Faso and Nigeria. 

What is regenerative farming to you?

There (thankfully) is a lot of talk about regenerative farming.
There are many definitions to this term. Mine is that regenerative farming is based on  what nature has done and perfected over millions and millions of years to create balance. To achieve balance nature has used diversity. Diversity of plants and species to create balance and find natural solutions to the constant flow in the environment we live in. That to me is what regenerative farming at Lake Hawea Station is. We have the lush diversity. So you don’t need sprays, you don’t need chemical fertilisers. You have that diversity and that balance through a very natural system. It is also healthier for the stock and very healthy for the soil.



What is the role of soil in regenerative farming?


Soil is so important and in many ways it is the forgotten part of a farming system.
We so often concentrate on what’s above the ground we forget what’s below it.
The United Nations issued a report around 4 years ago which said that if we increase by 0.4% a year the quantity of carbon contained in soils, we will bring carbon levels in the atmosphere to what they were before the industrial age. It’s a massive contribution that soil can make. With our soil testing here at LHS, we discovered that in a year we can sequester 1% in soil carbon. Ideally we can take this type of system to many other soils around the world and we can play a huge part in solving the climate crisis. 

Lake Hawea Station, New Zealand.

Geoff Ross, owner of LHS.

What is the key practice for LHS in Regenerative Farming?

The key practice for us in Regenerative Farming is really about our pastures. Multi-species pastures. For decades, when I grew up, it was all about monocultures or geocultures. Rye and Clover grass here in New Zealand are a prominent pasture type. What we are doing is planting pastures that have at least 30 different seeds. So every plant has a role. Not just in feeding the livestock but also in feeding the soil. For too long agronomy has been about chemistry. Regenerative Agriculture is about biology rather than what you need to pour onto the soil in a chemical form. We are looking at bacteria. At fungi. Their relationship and the balance between them. What we are finding is that with less inputs we can actually produce more and that has been the really cool thing about regenerative farming.

Right now we are putting down a lot of regenerative pastures, multi species pastures. They will be peaking around May or June. Right now it is pretty warm and lush, come May and June and here it’s very cold, it’s very frosty, the ground is almost frozen. So by that time we will have pastures that are going to be in full lush. It’s going to be like a salad bar for the stock and it is going to help them get through the winter. So right now we are getting those pastures into the ground. Getting water in them to make sure they will be in perfect conditions stills in a few months time. 




What are some differences between Regenerative Farming and traditional farming?

For many years, and in the system I grew up in, we’d plow the soil, and then till it to get it in a very fine form because that would allow new plants to get root structure through the soil much easier. But with Regenerative Faming you don’t need to plow to get that result. The plants do it for you. So that’s actually the role of a sunflower, for instance. Their root structure is creating pathways, liquid pathways, carbon pathways, sequestering it from the environment and getting it down into the soil. Creating pathways for other plants to follow as well. So we don’t need massive tractor riding over the land for hours when we have a plant like a sunflower who is building those pathways into the soil for us.

Some of the actions we are doing every day is we don’t till the soil. We don’t turn over and break up the soil. So no more plowing. We drill seeds directly into the soil and keep that organic matter there. We are actually starting to scale compost, you know we all have some compost into our backyard, so we are trying to see how we can scale that up for 6.5 thousand hectares. We are trialling Biochar as well. A charcoal-like substance that's made by burning organic material from agricultural and forestry wastes. All different ways of feeding that healthy soil and making it stronger.



What’s the role of farmers in reversing the Climate Crisis?

Well the world needs more food and fiber. More natural food and fiber. Farming is tough. I am relatively new to it, I grew up in a farm but I am relatively new to it. Farming is a tough livelihood, it’s relentless, it’s in your face everyday. There are so many dynamics. Many of which you can’t plan for. Farmers now see themselves under a spotlight, in a way they have never seen themselves before. The pressure is greater. But rather than seeing that as a problem as farmers, I think we need to see this as an opportunity. Extensive farming systems like the ones at LHS are actually climate positive. We sequester more carbon here than we emit. Therefore we play an active role in changing the route this planet is on. Perhaps amongst all that pressure, farmers can see that opportunity. I hope we can move from being seen as villains to heroes in the climate battle. 

Two of the biggest sectors in the world contributing to climate change are Fashion and Agriculture. If you look at what Sheep Inc have done - not are doing - but have done, is creating a carbon positive position. They have demonstrated that fashion does not need to be contributing to the climate crisis. It can be part of the solution. What we are trying to do at LHS is something similar but in the agricultural sector. We are fortunate we do have a big canvas to work with, we have a lot of vegetation that is sequestering a lot of carbon and we have an extensive pastural system. That is creating a natural fiber that, like Sheep Inc., is playing a role in dealing with the climate crisis. 

What is regenerative farming to you?

There (thankfully) is a lot of talk about regenerative farming.
There are many definitions to this term. Mine is that regenerative farming is based on  what nature has done and perfected over millions and millions of years to create balance. To achieve balance nature has used diversity. Diversity of plants and species to create natural solutions to the constant flow in the environment we live in. That to me is what regenerative farming at Lake Hawea Station is. We have the lush diversity. So you don’t need sprays, you don’t need chemical fertilisers. You have that diversity and that balance through a very natural system. It is also healthier for the stock and very healthy for the soil.



What is the role of soil in regenerative farming?


Soil is so important and in many ways it is the forgotten part of a farming system.
We so often concentrate on what’s above the ground we forget what’s below it.
The United Nations issued a report around 4 years ago which said that if we increase by 0.4% a year the quantity of carbon contained in soils, we will bring carbon levels in the atmosphere to what they were before the industrial age. It’s a massive contribution that soil can make. With our soil testing here at LHS, we discovered that in a year we can sequester 1% in soil carbon. Ideally we can take this type of system to many other soils around the world and we can play a huge part in solving the climate crisis. 

"Perhaps amongst all that pressure, farmers can see that opportunity. I hope we can move from being seen as villains to heroes in the climate battle." 


Lake Hawea Station, New Zealand.

Geoff Ross, owner of LHS.

What is the key practice for LHS in Regenerative Farming?

The key practice for us in Regenerative Farming is really about our pastures. Multi-species pastures. For decades, when I grew up, it was all about monocultures or geocultures. Rye and Clover grass here in New Zealand are a prominent pasture type. What we are doing is planting pastures that have at least 30 different seeds. So every plant has a role. Not just in feeding the livestock but also in feeding the soil. For too long agronomy has been about chemistry. Regenerative agriculture is about biology rather than what you need to pour onto the soil in a chemical form. We are looking at bacteria. At fungi. Their relationship and the balance between them. What we are finding is that with less inputs we can actually produce more and that has been the really cool thing about regenerative farming.

We are putting down a lot of regenerative pastures, multi species pastures. They will be peaking around May or June. Right now it is pretty warm and lush, come May and June and here it’s very cold, it’s very frosty, the ground is almost frozen. So by that time we will have pastures that are going to be in full lush. It’s going to be like a salad bar for the stock and it is going to help them get through the winter. So right now we are getting those pastures into the ground. Getting water in them to make sure they will be in perfect conditions in a few months time. 




What are some differences between Regenerative Farming and traditional farming?

For many years, and in the system I grew up in, we’d plow the soil, and then till it to get it in a very fine form because that would allow new plants to get root structure through the soil much easier. But with regenerative faming you don’t need to plow to get that result. The plants do it for you. So that’s actually the role of a sunflower, for instance. Their root structure is creating pathways, liquid carbon pathways, sequestering it from the environment and getting it down into the soil. Creating pathways for other plants to follow as well. So we don’t need massive tractors riding over the land for hours when we have a plant like a sunflower who is building those pathways into the soil for us.

Some of the actions we are doing every day is not tilling the soil. We don’t turn over and break up the soil. So no more plowing. We drill seeds directly into the soil and keep that organic matter there. We are actually starting to scale compost, you know we all have some compost into our backyard, so we are trying to see how we can scale that up for 6.5 thousand hectares. We are trialling Biochar as well. A charcoal-like substance that's made by burning organic material from agricultural and forestry waste. All different ways of feeding that healthy soil and making it stronger.



What’s the role of farmers in reversing the Climate Crisis?

Well the world needs more food and fiber. More natural food and fiber. Farming is tough. I am relatively new to it, I grew up in a farm but I am relatively new to it. Farming is a tough livelihood, it’s relentless, it’s in your face everyday. There are so many dynamics. Many of which you can’t plan for. Farmers now see themselves under a spotlight, in a way they have never seen themselves before. The pressure is greater. But rather than seeing that as a problem as farmers, I think we need to see this as an opportunity. Extensive farming systems like the ones at LHS are actually climate positive. We sequester more carbon here than we emit. Therefore we play an active role in changing the route this planet is on. Perhaps amongst all that pressure, farmers can see that opportunity. I hope we can move from being seen as villains to heroes in the climate battle. 

Two of the biggest sectors in the world contributing to climate change are Fashion and Agriculture. If you look at what Sheep Inc have done - not are doing - but have done, is creating a carbon positive position. They have demonstrated that fashion does not need to be contributing to the climate crisis. It can be part of the solution. What we are trying to do at LHS is something similar but in the agricultural sector. We are fortunate to have a big canvas to work with, we have a lot of vegetation that is sequestering a lot of carbon and we have an extensive pastural system. That is creating a natural fiber that, like Sheep Inc., is playing a role in dealing with the climate crisis. 

"Perhaps amongst all that pressure, farmers can see that opportunity. I hope we can move from being seen as villains to heroes in the climate battle." 


"Perhaps amongst all that pressure, farmers can see that opportunity. I hope we can move from being seen as villains to heroes in the climate battle." 


We will forward your question to Geoff and update this page asap.

What did you do before dedicating your life to Regenerative Farming?

Whilst I grew up on a farm and did my degree at an Agricultural College, I worked in the city for 20 years. I always wanted to come back to farming and so started looking at small farms for sale in the South Island. Lake Hawea Station was much bigger than what we first envisaged but once our family walked in the back country there , we all fell in love. And made the leap.

How many people work at Lake Hawea Station?

It's 8 of us now. Myself and my wife Justine run the property. Our son Finn works as a Carbon, Biodiversity and Sustainability Director. We then have Jack, our Farm Manager. Lochy, our Shepherd. Tyler, our Native Biodiversity Manager. Grace, Brand and Events Manager. And Tony who helps out with all of the above.

How many sheep are there at Lake Hawea Station and do you have any pet sheep?

We have aproximately 10,000 Merino Sheep at LHS. From time to time we do take in a few orphans when their mum hasn’t bonded with them and this last year we picked up one called Henry. He’s still with us and he’s a top little fella and we hang out with every day! We also have Freddie and Fig who is a fully grown sheep now!

The Metamelt Collection.

What did you do before dedicating your life to Regenerative Farming?

Whilst I grew up on a farm and did my degree at an Agricultural College, I worked in the city for 20 years. I always wanted to come back to farming and so started looking at small farms for sale in the South Island. Lake Hawea Station was much bigger than what we first envisaged but once our family walked in the back country there , we all fell in love. And made the leap.

How many people work at Lake Hawea Station?

It's 8 of us now. Myself and my wife Justine run the property. Our son Finn works as a Carbon, Biodiversity and Sustainability Director. We then have Jack, our Farm Manager. Lochy, our Shepherd. Tyler, our Native Biodiversity Manager. Grace, Brand and Events Manager. And Tony who helps out with all of the above.

How many sheep are there at Lake Hawea Station and do you have any pet sheep?

We have aproximately 10,000 Merino Sheep at LHS. From time to time we do take in a few orphans when their mum hasn’t bonded with them and this last year we picked up one called Henry. He’s still with us and he’s a top little fella and we hang out with every day! We also have Freddie and Fig who is a fully grown sheep now!

The Metamelt Collection.

What did you do before dedicating your life to Regenerative Farming?

Whilst I grew up on a farm and did my degree at an Agricultural College, I worked in the city for 20 years. I always wanted to come back to farming and so started looking at small farms for sale in the South Island. Lake Hawea Station was much bigger than what we first envisaged but once our family walked in the back country there , we all fell in love. And made the leap.

How many people work at Lake Hawea Station?

It's 8 of us now. Myself and my wife Justine run the property. Our son Finn works as a Carbon, Biodiversity and Sustainability Director. We then have Jack, our Farm Manager. Lochy, our Shepherd. Tyler, our Native Biodiversity Manager. Grace, Brand and Events Manager. And Tony who helps out with all of the above.

How many sheep are there at Lake Hawea Station and do you have any pet sheep?

We have aproximately 10,000 Merino Sheep at LHS. From time to time we do take in a few orphans when their mum hasn’t bonded with them and this last year we picked up one called Henry. He’s still with us and he’s a top little fella and we hang out with every day! We also have Freddie and Fig who is a fully grown sheep now!

The Metamelt Collection.

The Knitwear Journey.*
We design knitwear that reconnects us. That makes us more aware of the journey. That tells us the full story of the people and impact behind the things we wear.
*Worried about the amount of counties? Don’t Panic. Transport and travel is less than 1% of our overall carbon footprint.