Former Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman Duncan Coull has taken over as chairman of fertiliser co-op Balance.
The equity partners and sharemilkers milk 443 cows on 180ha and are now converting to a fully organic operation.
They first entered the awards in 2014 and were happy to win a category award. They entered again this year and won three categories, including the CB Norwood Ltd Agri-Business Management Award, which recognises farmers’ management practices aimed at operating a successful farm business.
The judges praised the Shorts’ excellent use of agri-business professionals and their knowledge of business management and strategy.
Rachel Short says good business management is important to them.
“We are always trying to fine-tune our system. And with the payout at the current level, it’s even more crucial to constantly review what is happening inside the farm gate.”
Their entry in the awards contest was important to their planning, she says. “It made us sit down together and look hard at what we had done and what we are trying to achieve.”
The judges had a broad range of experience and expertise, and the judging was relaxed and friendly.
“I used to get nervous about these things, but the judges are normal everyday people there to help you.
“It was worthwhile having the judges come onto the farm and give us an outside perspective on our business. Some of their ideas were useful and we enjoyed their feedback.”
The Shorts are now changing their farm system to meet requirements of organic certification. “We’ve had to look hard at our fertiliser policy and how we manage weeds.”