15 February 2019
Creating the farm of tomorrow is what drives Ross and Eleanore Webber on their 195ha beef farm. Along with their son, Matthew, the Webbers represent the third and fourth generation of family on this farm which benefits from their future-focused, progressive attitude.
It was the Webbers’ outstanding attitude and operation that saw them scoop the Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Regional Supreme Award for 2019.
The family has traditionally farmed a variety of beef as well as farming deer and mohair goats. They are currently working on establishing Angus-only stock and are particular as to the origin of their breeding bulls and cows.
The Webbers winter about 149 breeding cows - mostly Angus, equating to 8.8 stock units per hectare, which is in line with local stocking rates. Most weaners are sold in the autumn, keeping approximately 20 to 25 replacements. The team also tries to finish 25 R2 steers each year depending on the season.
The farm overlooks the Kaipara Harbour, the receiving catchment for all the waterways on the farm - a significant responsibility to say the least.
Environmental aspirations include, but are not limited to, protecting waterways and existing native bush blocks; conversion of pine blocks into native bush areas; enhancing natural native tree seed dispersal by birds through planting appropriate trees in specific places to encourage bird life; and continuing to eco-source plants suitable to a challenging natural environment.
There are significant areas of fenced bush lots and riparian planting including two QEII covenanted areas. There are also areas of pines which have either been harvested or are nearing harvesting stage.
Having been married for nearly four decades, supporting each other on their amazing journey, it is no wonder Eleanore was the one who encouraged Ross to enter the awards. “I put his name forward, I could see all of the work he had done. He can see the future for the farm and the environmental side of it. We have raised our three boys here and are very connected to our land and feel fortunate to have what we have.”
Moving forward, the Webbers are working diligently and with clear strategic direction to create a farming operation that Matthew and the family can continue. They pursue this dream carrying the honour of their well-deserved win.
“We feel privileged to have won Regional Supreme Award, to represent South Kaipara Head, and New Zealand farmers in general. This award has bought home to us how the fruits of our labour and achievements over the last 40 years.
“Moving forward we will maintain a holistic focus on our three key objectives - environment /waterways, wetland bush, and grazing pasture. We have been given such a wonderful opportunity to be guardians of New Zealand – Aotearoa. Life is so short that we feel this is our chance to “In life, you should grasp those chances as they don’t come along all the time. By winning this Award we will continue farming, enhancing the environment, and embracing our land with pride.”
Predator Free Farm Award
Waterforce Integrated Management Award
Auckland BFEA Farm Stewardship Award
2019 Auckland Regional Supreme Winner