About Us

Cameron Power and Evan Murphy are not just brothers-in-law but are also business partners, successfully running Power Grain together in the Bay of Plenty.

Power Grain Ltd leases 350 hectares of land around Whakatane, where Cameron's father Robert Power was dairy farming in 1987. "Dad wrecked his back and decided to go into maize farming," Cameron says.

"He grew his home farm, which is 36 hectares. He put that in maize and slowly went from there. Dad got into contracting a year or two after that - he bought some gear to do his own farm and then started doing other people farming. He began with maize planting and harvesting and we've done a lot of spraying in the past too."

Robert is no longer contracting, giving it up several years ago to get into property development. "I started contracting about nine years ago. I worked for Dad for a year and then I and my brother-in-law Evan took it on. He'd been working for Dad for about two years prior to me."

Cameron's sister Leah, who is married to Evan, got involved a few years ago and today does the bookwork and runs the office. "Evan and I now run it together. He's brilliant with machinery - both operating it and working on it," says Cameron.

"He's a diesel mechanic and was brought up through John Deere and did his time there." Today Power Grain does everything from maize planting and harvesting for grain to cultivation, discing, tilling, spraying, side dressing, silage chopping, ploughing, power harrowing stubble and grass ploughing.

"All the John Deere gear is pretty good and our Kinze planters do an extremely good job - they might be slower than some other planters but they're extremely accurate," says Cameron.

"We bought the eight rows probably 15 years ago and then about four years ago we bought the 12 row second hand. They're pretty similar and we like them for their accuracy." Evan and Cameron are also fans of their sprayer and like how the demount system allows it to be taken on and off the tractor easily, allowing the tractor to be used for other jobs.

"I think we've got fairly good gear compared to some of the guys around here. We build a bit of gear in our off time and we've built trailers and a six-metre set of folding discs," Cameron says. "We found that we couldn't turn sharp in the farmers' paddocks, so we made our discs turn sharp so we could get in the paddocks with a big set of discs. We made a trailer so we could carry the digger around behind the tractor."

Maize for grain is the single biggest part of Power Grain's business. "It's only in the last three years that we've got into silage a bit more. We've traded in maize silage for the last 10 or 15 years and we got contractors in to help us, but now we're doing more of those ourselves," says Cameron.

"The grass silage is something we haven't really pushed. We're busy planting maize and we know we have to do that right at the same time and we haven't got the man power to concentrate on the grass as well."

Power Grain has planted more than 1000 hectares of maize each season for the past three years and has harvested over 600 hectares of maize for grain, as well as 80 hectares of maize for silage.

"I think maize for grain has probably dropped a bit, because the silage industry has probably taken some of that, in some areas of New Zealand more than others. Our grain industry hasn't really climbed much because of what's happening overseas."

Power Grain used to plant for other contractors as well, although that work has dropped back as well. "Other people are now doing some of that chopping. We also spray a lot now and I spray for another two contractors. I do a pre-emergent spray out and a post-emergent spray of grain. The spraying is all done in the spring. The pre-emergent is done within five days of planting the maize, and then we follow up about six weeks after planting with a post-emergent spray, which knocks out all the flat weeds."

Power Grain looks after about 350 hectares of leased Maori land in the district, which makes up the bulk of its work. "We've just built on it more and more and pushed things a bit harder and got into silage. Dad was never into silage. We bought a truck and trailer so we're starting to cart our own grain as well. Most of our grain gets carted up to Hamilton - it's fairly long distance and we cart about half of what we harvest."

Power Grain Ltd only plants maize, primarily for grain, on its own farm. Cameron would like to grow the amount of leased land they're running. "We're looking to increase that, but by the same token, we can't keep increasing it. Everyone around here is trying to increase their leased land and there's only so much land made, but we are growing slowly."

They lease a mixture of swampy wet land and dry land, which Cameron says works out pretty well. "We have a good mixture, which is kind of good because it evens out your yields a bit. Some years we'll have a dry year and the wet land does really well. We try to minimise our risk, but we had some land this year that got flooded and totally destroyed."

Cameron and Evan employ one fulltime staff member and usually have an extra part-timer for the planting. "There are staffs on and off - sometimes we're up to six people employed and sometimes we're down to just the three of us," says Cameron.

"We never get really quiet though because in our off season we're fixing gear or building something. If anyone is capable in the workshop they're helping us. We do all our own maintenance and we weld and build things." Cameron enjoys his contracting life and says the partnership with Evan works extremely well. "We have our set roles. When things are busy we're both out driving and when things aren't busy we're in the workshop. Evan is better in the workshop and manages the gear really well. I talk to a lot of the lease people and sort out the lease work."

They're still servicing some leased land that Cameron's father Robert tended to 25 years ago, but are also picking up new clients all the time.

"We've got a lot of long-term clients that are happy with us. The competition is pretty strong around here and we've got four big players in the area. I think we compete pretty well on everything though - we do a good service with what we do and that's probably where we're really good."