Wednesday, 01 May 2024 09:55

Rewarding farmers who embrace sustainability

Written by  Staff Reporters
DairyNZ chief executive Campbell Parker says DairyNZ is celebrating the winners of its Sustainability and Stewardship Awards. DairyNZ chief executive Campbell Parker says DairyNZ is celebrating the winners of its Sustainability and Stewardship Awards.

Winners of DairyNZ’s Sustainability and Stewardship awards in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards have their eyes firmly fixed on progressing a positive future for New Zealand dairy.

The winners range from large inter-generational farms to small thriving farms. A common theme is the farmers’ long-term strategic approach, complementing their day-to-day sustainability actions.

Environmental work on the farms includes extensive native tree planting, protecting wetlands and using data to guide many decisions including around emissions reduction and water quality. There’s also a strong focus on efficiency, productivity, innovation, technology and farm teams.

DairyNZ chief executive Campbell Parker says the awards DairyNZ sponsors at the regional events recognise leading dairy farmers who are innovating and running sustainable and profitable farm businesses.

“Farming systems are becoming increasingly complex with changing technology and new challenges on the horizon. It’s great to see farmers throughout New Zealand future proofing their businesses. It’s critical New Zealand dairy farmers continue to adapt and remain resilient while continuing to produce sustainable and competitive milk,” Parker says.

“DairyNZ’s involvement in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards reflects our role supporting our farmers with research, technology and innovation to stay ahead of the curve. It’s also part of our partnership approach with the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, which runs the awards programme,” he says.

DairyNZ sees the awards as a great opportunity to continue supporting farmers to share their positive stories with the public, which has been building greater momentum over the past year.

Most of the DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Awards 2024 winners took out multiple Ballance Farm Environment awards in their regions. This includes the Stewart family of Hiwinui, who won the Horizons Regional Supreme Award and seven other regional awards including innovation, biodiversity, people and business management.

On the Stewart family farm, native plants enhance the natural environment and there are solar panels in the dairy shed. Native corridors with walkways and a wetland area have been developed and are shared with visitors and the wider community.

Regional Winners

The DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Awards 2024 winners are:

Northland

Greg & Claire Collins, Emerald Hills, Dargaville. Strategic planning, being adaptable and thinking outside the box are three reasons this small Dargaville dairy farm is both profitable and environmentally friendly.

Auckland

Sam Waugh, NZ Young Farmers’ Donald’s Farm, Whitford. The farm doubles as a commercial dairy farm and outdoors classroom for city school students teaching them about the primary sector and environment. It is both profitable and sustainable.

Waikato

Brad Hancock, Hancock Farms, Paterangi. Brad is the fourth generation in his family to farm in the Paterangi area. Careful strategic planning has created a profitable, efficient and flexible farming system. Sustainability work includes native planting to create a bird corridor.

Bay of Plenty

Jonathon Boyle, Four Oaks Farm, Pongakawa. This multigenerational farm has an increasing focus on biodiversity, with a 2ha wetland and native plants now covering 30ha of the 270ha property.

Horizons

James, Debbie, Dave and Jan Stewart of Stewart Dairylands, Hiwinui. The Stewarts are guided by a strong sense of family history and see the land as a precious commodity they treat carefully so it’s in better shape for the next generation.

Greater Wellington

Jason Christensen, Fernhill, Masterton. To help protect the environment and increase production, the farm team uses a range of environmental initiatives including trialling new technologies.

Canterbury

John Wright and Richard Green, Wainono Dairy, Fairlie. The farm uses technology and data to build a complete picture and guide decisions. Enhancing the environment is a priority, including extensive planting and careful planning around winter grazing and adverse weather events.

Otago

Justin Pigou, Neill Casey and Matt Hamilton, Waitepeka, Pāmu Farms, Romahapa. The farm management team is highly conscious of the need to continually adapt practices to enhance the environment, soil, animals and the lives of their staff.

Southland

Mike and Kirsty Bodle, Braintra Farms, Hokonui. The farm’s overarching goal is to achieve sustainable, consistent milk production, while creating a business that nurtures the personal growth of the farm owners, staff and other motivated young farmers. In a win for a mixed farm including dairy, the Miller family of Roslyn Downs, Glencoe were the Southland Regional Supreme Winners. Their 1034ha dairy, sheep and beef operation is led by brothers Jason and Quentin and Jason’s son, Andrew. The focus is on financial and environmental stewardship, and production efficiency, so the business continues to prosper into the future.

As Regional Supreme Winners, the Stewart and Miller families will be considered for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, to be presented at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase on 20 June at Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton.

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