David, Maureen and Cameron Smith
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are a great source of information for farmers wanting to learn more about sustainable and profitable farming, says Rangitikei farmer David Smith.
David and wife Maureen and their son Cameron run a 345ha farm and sheep stud at Upper Tutaenui, north of Marton. Their operation ‘Holly Farm’ was winner of the Livestock Farm award and the Innovation award in the 2009 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
The judges were impressed with the Smiths use of innovative technologies to improve sheep performance, with a strong focus on parasite resistance, production, longevity and survivability.
David says their aim is to make their low input-high performance system as sustainable as possible - given the variability associated with soil type, climate and contour - while also producing a ‘clean green product’.
Holly Farm has a farmstay that attracts a range of local and international visitors and this has made the Smith family very aware of how consumers perceive New Zealand agriculture.
“We are only a small country and it’s very important that we live up to our environmentally-friendly image,” says David.
“Our visitors love to see clean, healthy sheep roaming around the hills.”
The Smiths have entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards twice in the last five years and the key reason was to find out where their farming operation stood in terms of sustainability.
David says the judging process was relaxed and they received great feedback.
“It’s a very good learning experience and it was good to be able to ask the judges as many questions as we wanted. Free advice for farmers is pretty hard to find these days, so you’d be a mug not to pick their brains.”
David says the awards offer valuable information on topics like waterway protection and tree planting for shade, shelter commercial production and slope stability. The judges also provide information on how to seek funding assistance for environmental protection work.
He would certainly encourage other farmers to enter the awards.
“I think it’s a very good thing to be involved with,” he says.
“A farm doesn’t have to be a factory. Fencing waterways and planting trees for shade and shelter will not only make the farm more productive, it will also make it a more pleasant place to live and work.”
Entries for the 2011 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on October 30, 2010. Information on the awards and an entry form can be obtained from www.bfea.org.nz or the Horizons Regional Council.
For more information on the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust or the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, or email email@example.com.