Our Awards / FAQs

The objective of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is to promote sustainable land management on New Zealand farms.  We believe that positive role models and opportunities for learning are the most effective tools to improving farm practices.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards recognises and celebrates good farm practices through an annual awards programme which is now run in 11 regions throughout New Zealand.

Regional Supreme Winners are expected to host a field day on their winning property shortly after their awards event.  This is organised in conjunction with your regional management team.

Regional Supreme winners are invited to represent their region at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Sustainability Showcase which is held in June annually.  The Showcase provides an opportunity to meet and share ideas with Regional Supreme Winners from the other 11 regions.

Regional Supreme Winners will also be invited to participate in interviews for an opportunity to be considered for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy (sometimes referred to as the National Award).

This is a prestigious Award and there are commitments associated with being the National Winner. These are managed in co-operation with the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and they must fit in with your farming operations.

Any additional involvement with the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is at your discretion.

Currently there are at least eleven awards per region. Please click here for a full list of the award categories.

Prizes may be given in either cash or product at the sponsor’s discretion.

You can enter each year into the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, unless you are awarded as the Regional Supreme Winner.  Regional Supreme Winners are ineligible to re-enter the Awards for three years.

The three year stand down period also equally applies to anyone who has been a Trustee of the New Zealand Farm Envrionment Trust, or has been a Chairman, Judging Coordinator, Judge or a member of a regional Ballance Farm Environment Awards Management Committee.

Judging teams are a balance of three or four farmers and/or rural professionals who will visit your property, along with a designated photographer.  The mix of the members of the teams are dependent on the type and scale of the farm being judged, but will always contain at least one judge with a specialist knowledge of your industry.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards is about judging the entire environment that your farm operates within, with particular consideration to:
- sustainable profitability
- environmental awareness
- good business practices
- social and community responsibility.

Judging is carried out in a friendly, open, interactive manner with both farmers and judges having the opportunity to ask questions of each other.

All information supplied as part of the judging process remains strictly confidential.

All entrants will receive a written feedback report from the judges.

Our regions follow the same boundary lines as Regional Councils. If your property falls within more than one Regional Council boundary, you would normally enter the region where you pay the majority of your regional council rates.

If you are unsure of which region you should enter, please send us an email by clicking here.

Entering the Awards is quick and easy, 10 minutes tops, and can be done by completing a hard copy entry form or entering online by clicking here.

Once you have entered, an information pack will be sent to you which will contain a Judges Information Form.  You will be asked to complete this form either manually or in an electronic version.  This will help us select the most appropriate judges for your property.  Most entrants have said that they can complete this form in about an hour.

A judging team leader will contact you to organise a suitable time for the judges to visit your farm.  While no formal preparation is required prior to judging, it is worth taking time to review your farm and decide how you would like to showcase your property to the judges, to ensure that they see the parts of your farm which you are most proud of. 

Use the time to identify areas of your farming business where you would like some advice and use the broad knowledge your team of judges can offer. You should allow approximately 2.5 to 3 hours for judging on your property.

If you are selected as a finalist, then a second round of finalist judges will re-judge your farm.  Again this should take approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.

And that is it, apart from checking your diary to ensure that you are able to attend your regional awards function.  All judged entrants are given a complimentary ticket to attend this event.

Yes.  The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are open to all farming businesses, regardless of which businesses they purchase their goods or services from.

According to the judges, the best time to enter your property is when you feel that it is not ready.  If you wait until the farm is perfect – you will never enter!!  Even if you don’t win an award the first time you enter, the feedback you receive will be invaluable in helping to improve your business, and you can always enter again in future years.

To help decide if you are ready to enter the Awards, please take the two minute Tick Test.

Entries to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on 01 August annually but we are happy to accept entries at any time throughout the year.  You can enter via our website or by emailing us.

Farmers enter the awards for many different reasons including:

  • using the opportunity to benchmark their property against their peers
  • gaining knowledge from an experienced group of judges, who include rural professionals and farmers who are passionate about sustainability
  • receiving free, confidential, constructive feedback (both verbal and written) about their farming business
  • assistance in setting goals which link sustainable farming practices to long-term profitability
  • confirmation that their current farm management practices are sustainable
  • sharing their ideas and expertise with the wider community
  • being recognised for the great things they have, or are accomplishing, on their property.

Any farming operation is able to enter the Awards provided it can be defined as a business enterprise which is based on the productive or amenity use of soils or other natural resources, including but not exclusive to agriculture, horticulture or viticulture.

Farming operating structures may include (but are not limited to) farm owners, sharemilkers, farm managers (with the farm owner’s agreement), trusts, partnerships and corporate entities.

It should be noted that a three year stand down period applies to anyone who has been a Trustee of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, or has been a Regional Supreme Winner, Chairman, Judging Coordinator, Judge or member of a Regional Ballance Farm Environment Awards Management Committee.

The late Gordon Stephenson, Waikato farmer and conservationist, first mooted the idea of a farm environment competition in 1991, as a way of recognising farmers who were trying to balance farm productivity with environmental protection.  The intention was to get farmers thinking about sustainability and to ask themselves “can what is being done now, still be working successfully in 100 years?”

In honour of his contribution to the success of the farm environment awards, the National Winner trophy bears his name.

The role of the National Winner is not about having the best farm, or generating the highest production figures.  The National Award is awarded to the Regional Supreme Winner who is judged to be strongest ambassador for the promotion of sustainable and profitable farming in New Zealand.

Ballance Farm Environment Awards National Sponsors