When Ballance began to support the Ballance Farm Environment Awards way back in 1995, the internet was budding technology, consumers had little thought to the origins of food or fibre and resources like water were freely available on a first come, first served basis.
Twenty years on, anyone, anywhere can read news on farm practices in New Zealand, consumers can google the 'baa' code on merino clothing to see where the fibre was grown and the management of natural resources is increasingly regulated.
A ground-breaking idea to encourage and celebrate farmers following good environmental principles back in the 1990's has proved a trailblazer for sharing, showcasing and supporting sustainability. As a result, farmers can look to other farmers to see what is both profitable and possible when it comes to the best environmental management of their operations. All of this has been made possible not just through sponsorships but through the dedication of judges and countless volunteers who have made the Ballance Farm Environment Awards the gold standard.
The constant encouragement and education embedded in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards have enabled good farmers to become even better farmers, able to meet growth goals without compromising sustainability.
The examples set by regional and national winners have shown other farmers that it's possible to manage increasing regulatory requirements, while maintaining productivity - and that they can do it in a way which meets consumers' growing interest in where food comes from and how it is produced. This has underpinned New Zealand's reputation as an exporter of high quality nutrition.
Maintaining and building our reputation has never been more important if we are to make the most of the massive opportunities for our agricultural exports in the big emerging economies of China, India, Indonesia and Brazil.
As a farmer cooperative, Ballance is working with our farmers to make this opportunity real. New Zealand is not creating more land, but the science behind our products and advice means we can lift the performance of our farms.
Our Ballance Farm Environment Awards winners are in the top 25% for productivity. Our goal is to bring the lower 25% up to the median and take the median up to the top 25% like all of our winners.
Twenty years ago, what we could offer farmers was markedly different to what is available today. Technology, science and sustainability are all in the toolbox enabling farmers to produce more with a lighter environmental footprint. We're very excited about the next twenty years and ensuring farming's sustainability as an economic powerhouse for this great country.
Click here for more information about Ballance AgriNutrients.