Great Farming Stories

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Pencarrow Farm - Brad & Viana Fallaver AND the Macfarlane Family

15 February 2019

Pencarrow Farm - Brad & Viana Fallaver AND the Macfarlane Family

While it is anything but just a ‘box ticker’ in its mission to be a great farming operation, Pencarrow Farm does, indeed, tick all the right boxes.

The Macfarlane family bought the property almost 30 years ago and has a special connection with contract milkers, Brad and Viana Fallaver, who are in the fifth year of their contract on the property.

It is a relationship predicated on trust and integrity, with the Macfarlanes entrusting the Fallavers with management over the day-to-day running of the farm. 

Currently milking close to 780 cows on 240 effective hectares, with a 26ha support block, the operation benefits from an efficient whole farm system that impressed the judges. This system supports good outcomes for soil, water, nutrient management and community involvement from both families.

Shared goals at Pencarrow Farm provide a unified and cohesive vision which is to take pride in the work environment, keeping stress low for the animals and people involved. The environment is also treated as an important asset with the judges impressed by the team’s dedication to reducing the farm’s environmental footprint.

The environmental efforts start from the ground up at Pencarrow Farm with substantial award-winning plantings - hundreds of tree and shrub species are planted amongst the dairy pastures and the farm is home to numerous shelter belts. Trees serve myriad purposes - to increase the property aesthetic; provide shelter to cows; lower evapotranspiration losses during the irrigation season and enhance on-farm biodiversity - just a few of the many benefits.

Another key initiative is planting a catch crop of oats after the fodder beet has been grazed during lactation. A 3-yearly cycle of precision soil testing is also undertaken along with in-depth recording and monitoring of fertiliser, plant and soil tests. Water efficiency is a primary consideration with all water usage in the dairy shed metered and monitored.

Described by the judges as “excellent role models for the agricultural industry”, the fabulous four - Andy & Tricia and Brad & Viana - are evidently in their element. Of their foray into the Ballance Farm Environment Awards Andy comments, “Pencarrow Farm won the inaugural Canterbury competition. In the last 15 years since that time, the change in Canterbury farming and what we need to deliver has been incredible.

“For us, it is about benchmarking the farm and reflecting on the knowledge gained and lessons learnt during this time. Through the judges’ feedback, we can look at what’s on the horizon and look at what we need to be doing in the future.” 

Awards Won

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award

DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award

Norwood Agri-Business Management Award

Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award

Synlait Climate Stewardship Award