Riverside Farm , Pāmu Riverside

Riverside Farm is a leased sheep and beef property near Masterton in the Wairarapa made up of one large block and a smaller one nearby.

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  • To expand knowledge about pastoral sheep and beef farming in summer-dry areas, particularly Wairarapa.
  • To provide a facility for quality research, teaching and extension in sheep and beef farming.
  • To be managed as a profitable commercial sheep and beef farm.
  • To provide a link between the University and Agribusiness.

Farm features

About the farm

Riverside Farm is owned by the Sydney Campbell Foundation. Massey has leased the land since 1978 based on a 99-year term (with right of renewal).

The farm consists of two blocks, the main unit (650 ha) and the smaller and less developed Mikimiki block (75 ha).

The property is subdivided into 105 paddocks and 5 holding paddocks. Fences are about 50% conventional and the rest 3- or 4-wire electric.

Location & map

The main block is located approximately 11 km north to north-west of Masterton, with land bounding SH2 and Mikimiki Road. The Mikimiki block is located approximately 6 km west of the SH2.


725 hectares.

Effective Area: 686 hectares.


Main block

200–300 metres above sea level.

Mikimiki block

300–400 metres above sea level.


This table outlines the land contour types at the farm, including area and per cent of the farm.
Contour type Hectares Per cent
Flat to undulating 480 70
Rolling 100.0 14.5
Strongly rolling 80.0 11.6
Moderately steep 26.0 3.9

Noxious weeds

Variegated and nodding thistles.

Noxious animals

Rabbits, hares, deer.


Main block

  • Kohinui series and Tauherenikau series (intergraded yellow-brown loam and yellow-brown earth) dominate the terrace between the river and the State Highway, with recent soils (Greytown series) surrounding the current river bed.
  • Soils of the Kohinui series also occur on the western side of the river, bounding with the Konini hill soils that mantle the hills on the north of Mikimiki Road (with a small proportion of Mikimiki steepland soil also occurring).
  • History Kaikouta series limestone hill soils dominate south of Mikimiki Rd and west of the river, with Otukura series gleys in the south-west and some Konini series mudstone hill soils also present.

Mikimiki block

Mikimiki steepland soils (greywacke).


The nearest recorded Council weather station to Riverside Farm:

This table includes information about the climate at Riverside Farm by month.
January February March April May June July August September October November December Year
Average high C 24.3 24.0 21.9 18.8 15.4 13.2 12.1 13.1 15.4 17.5 19.8 22.1 18.1
Daily mean C 18.1 17.7 16.3 13.1 10.5 8.6 7.6 8.4 10.5 12.3 14.2 16.4 12.8
Average low C 11.8 11.4 10.6 7.5 5.5 4.0 3.1 3.7 5.6 7.1 8.7 10.7 7.5
Rainfall mm 44.4 68.9 84.5 54.0 93.6 105.3 90.9 86.7 73.7 77.2 77.5 70.9 922.9
Average rainy days 7.1 7.6 10.1 9.2 11.0 13.2 14.1 14.1 11.7 12.8 10.0 9.7 129.8
% humidity 76.0 82.9 84.2 87.0 89.5 91.3 91.1 89.6 83.5 79.0 78.8 76.9 84.2

Riverside receives closer to 1300mm rainfall. Prone to summer droughts and severe Easterly storms. January, February, and March are the driest months with June and July typically the wettest period. 1800mm on farm.

Water supply

Water is sourced from the Waiau River and pumped to a tank on top of one of the hills. From there it is gravity-fed back through most of the farm. About 15 paddocks have either dams or creeks for water.

The Mikimiki Block has a recently installed gravity-fed reticulated water supply, sourced from an internal spring.

Farm buildings

This table lists the farm buildings and occupants.
Farm building Occupant
Riverside homestead Farm Manager
Second house Shepherd General
Third house Rented

All houses in reasonable condition except the Riverside cottage which is in average condition. Main woolshed is eight stands. Covered yards at Riverside with 2,000-ewe capacity. One set of cattle yards and a further set of poor condition satellite yards and a good set of satellite yards on the Mikimiki block.


  • 1 Farm Manager
  • 1 Shepherd General
  • Casuals as required

Pasture and cover

Riverside block – effective

This table outlines the effective pasture and cover on the Riverside block.
Pasture type Hectares
Old pasture 479.0
Improved pasture 78.1
Hybrid rye-red clover-white clover 28.0
Chicory/clover 11.0
Feed – oats/rape 10.0
Autumn-sown new grass 8.0
Total effective 614.1

Riverside block – other

This table outlines the other pasture and cover on the Riverside block.
Cover type Hectares
QEII Covenant 3.4
Shelter belts/trees 21.0
Races, tracks and waste 11.5
Total other 35.9

Mikimiki block – effective

This table outlines the effective pasture and cover on the Mikimiki block.
Pasture type Hectares
Old pasture 50
Improved pasture 22
Total effective 72

Mikimiki block – other

This table outlines the other pasture and cover on the Mikimiki block.
Cover type Hectares
Races, tracks and waste 3

Stock policies


3,400 Romney ewes are run. 50% of the offspring are sold with the majority off their mother in the second week of December – the balance are finished on summer crop.

Approximately 500 of the 950 ewe hoggets are put to the ram on 1 May with all progeny sold store.

Numbers have varied on Riverside in recent years to accommodate research trials.

Production and future targets

This table outlines information about sheep on Riverside Farm 2020-2021, plus future targets to 2025.
2020/2021 2021/2022 2024/2025
Scanning 179% 184% 185%
Ewe death 4.95% 4.86% 4.10%
Lambing 144% 148% 150%
Dry 2.9% 3.9% 2.5%
Weaning weight 27.1kg 29.0kg 33.0kg


Riverside’s beef policy centres on two age classes of steers to control the volatile summer production and if necessary act as a buffer mob.

Key strategies to improve cattle performance are as follows.

  • Target winter growth rates of over 0.6kg/day for June and July with the use of crops.
  • Kill over 60% of animals before the second winter.

Production and future targets

This table outlines information about beef on Riverside Farm 2020-2021, plus future targets to 2025.
2020/2021 2021/2022 2024/2025
Cattle deaths 0.6% 1.0% 1.0%
Prime steer carcass weight 316.33kg 320.00kg 325.00kg


Fertiliser programmes are based on soil test results.

Soil tests are done biannually and show the following results.

This table outlines information about soil tests 2010-2020.
Year pH Olsen P SO4 K
2010 5.6 25.0 11.4 8.3
2012 5.8 18.0 12.0 11.0
2016 5.6 16.0 13.0 8.3
2018 5.8 15.0 8.0 7.0
2020 5.8 24.0 12.0 7.0

Maintenance fertiliser program 2021:

  • hill country 330kg/ha Super + Se (0.5 kg/ha)
  • easier country plus Mikimiki 250kg/ha Sulphur Super 15 + Se

Nitrogen fertiliser is also used strategically to boost lambing covers before set stocking on the multiple lambing areas.

Wintering stock numbers

Stock numbers as at 1 July 2021.


This table outlines information current sheep wintering numbers and stock units.
Stock Numbers Stock units
MAEwes 2,389 2,389
Ewe hoggets (SIL) 1,148 1,148
Two tooths 975 975
Ewe hoggets (dry) 124 99
Rams 47 38
Total sheep 4,683 4,649


This table outlines information current cattle wintering numbers and stock units.
Stock Numbers Stock units
R2 Year steers + 260 1,300
R1 Year steers 108 486
Total cattle 368 1,786

Total stock units: 6,435

Our people

Riverside Farm is managed by Digby Lowe.

Digby Lowe

Farm Manager – Riverside Farm
School of Agriculture and Environment


A selection of research projects currently underway at Riverside Farm.

Breeding a self-shedding sheep

Steve Morris

A multiyear flock study is occurring at Riverside Farm recording production and performance as a flock is graded up from Romney to a Wiltshire flock.

The project will collect individual animal production – live weights, body condition score, reproductive data of ewes, mothering ability of ewes, growth rates of lambs, carcass and pelt traits, fleece weight and wool traits – welfare, and health data.

Modelling has indicated that in the long-term a change to a self-shedding flock will be profitable. But our model is limited by lack of objective data in regard to production data over the transition period.

Current assumptions are based on anecdotal industry data, or trial data from more than 20 years ago. The modelling suggests that the coarse wool greasy price would have to exceed $4.15/kg greasy to break even on the costs of shearing in many farming scenarios.

Contact Steve Morris

Commercial seed trial

A small seed trial involving a commercial seed company is also undertaken on Riverside Farm.

More information

For further information please email us at: agstation@massey.ac.nz.

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