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Farmer profile: Stu and Debbie Pankhurst – enjoying the team spirit

Stu and his wife Debbie are the third generation of the family to run their Glenone farm in Aylesbury, mid-Canterbury. The land is mixed cropping. They crop 260 hectares in summer and finish about 10,000 lambs, and about 400 cattle on fodder, through winter.

This year they have 27 hectares of chicory devoted to The Omega Lamb Project and are projected to finish 3,000 lambs.

“We heard about the project through our stock agent, about 14 months ago,” says Stu. “He suggested I go along to a Headwaters meeting.

“It was too late for us to start last season, but we’ve had lots of discussions over the past 12 months and it was firmed up in March/April that we would do it and we’ve been working with them since then.

“What we really like is that there is a lot of information and support. You sign a contract with some companies and you’ll hear very little from them, farmers can feel very alone. But with Headwaters you feel part of the team and, if you have any questions, you can just call them.”

Stu and Debbie have already been growing chicory, which Stu says is well suited to the local climate, for the past couple of years.

“Grass can be a bit difficult in summer due to the heat, but chicory really likes the heat. We are fully irrigated so can grow a lot of high quality dry matter. The chicory is growing vigorously – and, if this pays the bills, then we’ll look to growing more next year.”