Great Farming Stories

Great Farming Stories / Great Farming Stories

Stephen & Annabel Crawford - Crawford Family Ltd

15 February 2019

Stephen & Annabel Crawford - Crawford Family Ltd

The Crawford family is running a farming business that any farmer in New Zealand would be proud to own.

Recognised and celebrated as “thought leaders” by the Ballance Farm Environment Award judges, the pair runs an extensive organically certified milking operation with 900 dairy cows. Their land boundaries both the Clutha and Pomahaka Rivers in South Otago.

Producing 270,000kgMS per annum, the 730ha dairy operation is fully self-contained, including all of its supplements, with the exception of a small amount of organic calf meal which is brought in. Run in two distinct milking blocks, with two well-equipped dairy sheds, the judges were impressed by the farm’s wintering barns and highly structured winter effluent collation system.

Creating a legacy business is at the heart of the Crawfords’ vision with aspirations for their three children to be involved in the business, in some way, in the long-term future. The Crawfords believe creating a business that is exciting and dynamic is instrumental to achieving this goal.

With their land on the doorstep of special waterways, the Crawfords are motivated to enhance the welfare of their environment, hence their decision to plant and retire the areas on the river boundaries from stock grazing. This assists with soil conservation and water quality.

Water testing on the tributary to the Pomahaka, which flows through the property, shows an improvement as water moves through the farm. This is testament to the fact that water quality is improving and is a credit to the farming operation.
Soils are tested approximately every three years, and the Crawfords have an excellent understanding of their soils in both soil fertility and soil structure facets. Their passion for the environment is further exemplified by a pond system designed to trap sediment and host ducks.

The judges thought the use of native species - tree daisies, lemonwood and sedges - around wintering shed areas, along with plans to increase the diversity of plantings, shows excellent initiative.

With a great recipe for the future of their family farming operation, the humble couple says of entering the awards, “We enjoy looking at ways to self-improve and we were eager to get new ideas from the judges.”

And their advice for others contemplating entry?
“You’re never quite ‘there’, so the awards are very much a learning tool. It’s always interesting having others look over your farm because they see things you don’t and offer a different perspective.”  

Awards Won

DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award

Otago Regional Council Quality Water Management Award