15 April 2020
Here are our wonderful 2020 entrants for the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. We congratulate them all for becoming involved in the awards programme - it's a privilege to have learned more about their food and fibre production businesses.
Tony Coltman & Dana Carver, Canlac Holdings — Dunsandel
Canlac Holdings was a high-performing farm when this couple took over in 2013 and their focus on good management practice means they have lifted it to another level.
The business demonstrates how it’s possible to look after the environment while still being profitable. For example, the farm is bringing in high profits while at the same time significantly reducing its environmental footprint – including cutting nitrogen leaching by about 50%.
Priorities include stock health, maximising a high-genetic herd and leaving the farm in top environmental condition for future generations via such things as plantings, soil fertility and irrigation.
The couple has clear goals for both themselves and the health and wellbeing of staff, plus are heavily involved in off-farm activities.
Andrew & Miranda Luddington, Fairfield Farm — Rakaia
Keeping it cost-effective and keeping it simple is the approach being taken at this Canterbury cropping farm – and it’s working.
A wide range of crops are grown for winter grazing, with as many as 2,000 sheep coming on to graze. They are grown on a low-input, medium-output basis and a number of strategies drive profitability while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This includes the careful selection of crops, keeping cultivation to a minimum and avoiding ploughing.
The main fertilisers are pig manure and mushroom compost. There is a huge commitment to biodiversity, including 500 native trees being planted each year for the past 10 years in an ongoing programme.
Robin Oakley, Oakley's Premium Fresh Vegetables — Southbridge
Taking notice of the small things is proving to be a recipe for success at Oakley’s Premium Fresh Vegetables.
Operating over 400ha, this Canterbury vegetable producer is the main supplier of potatoes, beetroot, pumpkin and broccoli to one of the South Island’s biggest food chains.
Owner Robin Oakley says it can be the small things and observations that make all the difference to sustainably producing quality vegetables. To enhance crop performance, his team keeps a close eye on crop rotations, soil cultivation, soil nutrients and irrigation, plus they adapt to environmental conditions.
An innovative, agile approach is taken across the business, resulting in consistently high-quality vegetables that meet the changing demands of consumers."
John Taylor, Brendon Stent and Aafke Huisman, Rosebank - Landcorp Farming Pāmu — Carew
Rosebank is a leader in the field of agricultural sustainability and its investment in infrastructure over the past six seasons has been game-changing.
Primarily a dairy support block, the Canterbury property has diversified by trialling new crops, fertiliser regimes and stocking rates, plus has a strong commitment to biodiversity.
Growing 1,500 replacement stock, the farm has been transformed in recent years thanks to impressive investment in development and capital projects – driven by a focus on sustainability. Different cropping options are being trialled – diversifying and spreading risk, while also aiming to reduce nitrogen leaching and greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to prioritising stock performance and health, there is also a strong community involvement outside of the farm gate."
Mark & Anna Hawkins, Sutherlands Farm — Pleasant Point
Beef, dairy support, deer, cropping
Eighteen years ago, the Hawkins moved from the United Kingdom to achieve their ambition of farm ownership and they have not stopped developing Sutherlands Farm since.
Building on their extensive experience of farming deer and beef cattle, their core business now is growing grass – primarily for finishing Angus cattle. One block is used for cropping, while they also run stags for the velvet, along with dairy heifers.
Sutherlands Farm has good shelter and ongoing plantings, including the maintenance of a significant berm between the farm and river. Fertiliser use is adapted for efficiency, while grass and crops are grown according to soil type and analysis.
They have a strong focus on developing better systems for increased productivity, for example around animal health and soil.
Richard & Chrissie Wright, Tamar Farm — Mount Somers
Beef, dairy, cropping
Scale is no barrier, and attention to detail paramount, at this property that has grown considerably since the Wrights bought it in 2002.
The farm is self-contained in terms of stock replacements and grazing, ensuring a profitable and productive business with very healthy animals. The hands-on managers are passionate about farming and proud of their team members – actively advancing them.
A significant number of trees have been planted on the property, including shelter belts, ornamental and native plantings. The farm has responsible grazing practices and crop rotation, a focus on energy efficiency and technology, and excellent management of nutrients.
The business is an inspiring example of a family committed to advancing good people into farming and providing options for family succession.
Mike & Nicky Salvesen, Wakare — Mount Somers
A progressive vision for the future is guiding this Canterbury beef and deer farm, enabling it to adapt to changing conditions and reduce its environmental footprint.
The main block runs calving cows and breeding bulls for dairy herds, deer for venison production and about 1,000 lambs. Genetic measurements are tracked as the business strives to continually improve the quality of the animals. A second block runs dairy grazers and Wagyu beef, providing capital protection and forming part of the succession planning.
Numerous improvements have been made to the property in terms of production and the environment – including a significant tree-planting programme.
All activities are guided by an acute awareness of how they can affect the local and wider environment.