LOW value bark from Eastland Port has been turned into organic paddock- fill by a cartage contractor and an environmentally conscious farmer.

Forward-thinking agricultural and cartage contractor Mark DeCosta and a Muriwai farming family have created a nature-friendly paddock as a solution for getting rid of tens of thousands of tonnes of low-value bark.

“The project has allowed us to turn low-quality pasture into high-performing pasture, meaning increased production without intensification,” says fourth-generation farmer Rob Faulkner.

“That’s an environmentally-friendly result that fits in well with our overall farming philosophy.”

DeCosta Enterprises’ Mark De Costa has been carting bark from Eastland Port for a number of years. He says when the port’s log yards were unsealed, bark by-product contaminated with stones was no good as a garden product. But he didn’t want to see it go to waste.

He talked to Mr Faulkner’s business partner and brother-in-law, Bruce Graham about infilling an old dry creek bed that snaked through the paddock in front of Mr Faulkner’s Muriwai homestead. The idea was to create a new paddock out of previously low-value land.

The Faulkners, former supreme winners of the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards, were keen on the prospect of creating three hectares of new fresh pasture.

“As far as we know the creek bed has been dried up since the water changed course thousands of years ago, and the gully was so deep and wide it made the land challenging,” explains Mr Faulkner.

Eastland Port organised the necessary consents, and over more than three years Mr DeCosta shipped tens of thousands of tonnes of bark into the creek bed at no cost to the Faulkners.

Once the bark started going in, Mr Faulkner fertilised the land to help break down the new material; then he sowed the new paddock first with Hunter Brassica, then with the clover that now forms a lush carpet.

During the lengthy fill process, a water testing regime showed there was no adverse impact on the environment.
Mr Faulkner also dug out the dam in the middle to ensure the rare pateke (brown teal ducks) that make their home there, could continue to do so.

Eastland Port infrastructure manager Martin Bayley says the port was delighted that the old by-product could be used for such a constructive environmentally friendly measure.

Image: Rob Faulkner and heading dog Queen pause for a break on an old dried creek site which now, with a bit of help from Eastland Port and DeCosta Enterprises, is a lush paddock of clover. Image by Louise Savage.