Farmers seeking an objective assessment of their environmental management should enter the Ballance Farm Environment awards, says a leading Waikatodairy farmer.
Ian Elliott, who runs a large-scale dairying operation on 425ha north of Tokoroa, is among a team of judges that will judge the 2008 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Entries opened on September 1.
Ian & Margaret Elliott“My advice to anyone considering entering is to give it a go,” says Ian. “Some farmers are doing better than they think when it comes to improving the sustainability of their operations. So the judging process will help them to identify just where they are at.”
Ian has been a judge for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards since 2005.
He and wife Margaret were finalists for the Waikato regional awards in 2004 and won the Gallagher Innovation award for their innovative approach to the conversion of 170ha of former forestry land into dairying.
Ian says farmers are under a lot of pressure to improve their environmental management, “but we can’t bury our heads in the sand and take a siege mentality over these issues.”
He says the awards offer positive proof that farmers are making a big effort to improve. “One of the things I look for in an entrant is a good understanding of the challenges they face. And while it’s important that they are enthusiastic about their commitment to the land, it’s equally important that they demonstrate some method of measuring the improvements they are making.”
Ian says it’s also good to see entrants showing some commitment to their community.
Succession planning is another key area for the judges. “A good succession plan demonstrates a sense of partnership when it comes to the long-term future of the land as it passes from generation to generation.”
Ian says judging is an informal two-way process, with judges offering advice that may help entrants to improve their operations in future.
“A lot of people enter the awards just so that they can pick up ideas and increase their knowledge.”
Entries for the Waikato awards close on November 9.
Waikato awards coordinator Phillipa Crequer is expecting a good number of entries for the 2008 competition. She says entering the awards is a very simple process and information can be obtained by emailing Waikato@bfea.org.nz or firstname.lastname@example.org
Farmers can enter on line at www.bfea.org.nz or through Environment Waikato www.ew.govt.nz