15 February 2019
When the Werders purchased their 120ha dairy farm some 18 months ago, the significance of this investment was about more than embarking on their own journey. They were also taking the baton from Thomas’ parents, the initial owners. As such, they were inheriting a legacy and taking responsibility for protecting it for future generations to do the same.
Currently milking 250 mixed-breed cows, the Werders budget to produce 110,000kg/MS per season. Their ultimate goal is to create a sustainable business model which they can replicate as they grow.
In the eyes of the Werders, sustainability isn’t just a term, it’s a way of life in many aspects. To this end, the judges were impressed by the Werders excellent team relationships which pave the way for a strong and sustainable social dynamic. Good time management means the Werders remain very engaged in the business while still finding time to be with their children.
At a broader level, family involvement in the business is high with regular dialogue about succession and ongoing planning. Additionally, joint family business ventures continue to provide for equity growth. Of their financial sustainability, the judges commended Thomas and Courtney for sound knowledge of their financial situation and their clear business goals.
In respect to environmental sustainability, the Werders utilise the comprehensive knowledge of other experienced farmers to inform excellent pasture management. All waterways are fenced and have been riparian planted for a long time. Gullies are also fenced, with most planted in either pines or native bush, and a significant amount of native shelter exists on the property.
Innovative infrastructure and entrepreneurial enterprise can be seen throughout the business including the safety grills implemented on the effluent system to mitigate the risk of slippage, and a feed pad designed and built with help from Thomas. Cows are managed on this feed pad in bad weather and stood off so they don’t roam the paddocks and damage the soil.
The Werders entered the ballance Farm Environment Awards after seeing the positive experience Thomas’ brother had in a previous year. “We thought we had a good story to tell, and while complacency hasn’t crept into our business, it is also good to have eight professionals look at what we are doing. The process isn’t about being critiqued but offers an opportunity to talk about things and make sure we are on track to achieve our goals.”
DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award