15 April 2020
Here are our wonderful 2020 entrants for the Otago 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.
Cath & Peter Bloxham, Broadridge Farms — Milton
Sheep & beef
Since Broadridge Farms was established, Cath and Peter have seen growth in stock numbers and production, plus invested in infrastructure.
In 2003, Cath and Peter purchased a property adjoining a farm owned by Peter’s parents. A partnership was formed until 2013 when Peter and Cath took ownership of the company. Development included putting in fencing, laneways, shelter belts and riparian plantings. Pasture health is monitored, with cultivars chosen to match the soil, while regular soil tests inform fertiliser use.
Large blocks of native bush are enhanced by three wetlands – one recently created – attracting wildlife. Time and energy has gone into ensuring the business is both viable and enjoyable to run, while allowing time for community involvement.
Sam & Debra Stevens, Cairnlea Farm — Poolburn
Stud sheep, dairy support
The owners of this Central Otago farm are balancing increased profitability with environmental improvements, thanks to significant development work.
Running Poll Dorset stud sheep and dairy cows, the couple is striving to keep the animals healthy via a simple, mainly chemical-free approach while still being rigorous. Development of the property, combined with changes to farming systems, has resulted in the farm becoming more profitable.
They are keen to continue improving the environment and have started planning wetland projects and are part of the Otago TBfree programme. The strategic application of fertiliser is based on regular soil testing.
Conscious of potential new government regulations, they see the awards as an opportunity to analyse their business and find ways of improving it further.
Sam & Liz Barton, Montana Pastoral — Tapanui
Sheep & beef
When the Bartons bought into Montana Pastoral, they took a significant step toward achieving their ultimate goal of owning a farm – and the achievements haven’t stopped there.
Their meticulous approach to farm management has also led to strong production, excellent stock and pasture performance, and impressive environmental practices. Equally important is achieving a work-life balance.
There’s extensive recording of stock health and movements, plus a close eye is kept on soil and nutrient management. There’s shelter and shade in most paddocks and 42ha is planted in large trees – part of an ongoing tree planting and harvesting programme.
All farm practices are guided by a comprehensive business plan, while Liz and Sam are continually sharpening their business skills through industry initiatives, self-development and professional learning.
Sandra & Chris Campbell, Oakwood Hills — Clifton
Caring for the environment comes first as this couple strives to enhance the land and stock at their dairy farm.
Contract milkers Chris and Sandra are responsible for all farm operations, giving them the freedom to try new management practices and farming techniques. Their drive to improve has resulted in quality pasture, healthy animals and excellent water enhancement as they work towards full ownership of Oakwood Hills.
Enhancing the environment is another focus. Waterways are fenced, nutrients carefully managed, and riparian planting is underway – including the propagation of their own native seedlings.
Meanwhile, looking after people is another cornerstone of the business, with the Campbells showing a strong commitment to their family, farm team and the wider rural community.
Angela Scott and Grant Williams, Pendella Farm — Gimmerburn
Sheep & beef
The epic landscape of Central Otago’s Maniototo has been the backdrop for this family farming business for 93 years, with Angela Scott now at the helm.
This proud, third-generation farmer is focused on authentically restoring the natural environment while continuing to build a successful business.
Angela runs super-fine merinos, rears Friesian bull calves and finishes bulls, using close monitoring and external guidance to keep them in top condition. As part of the environment’s restoration, Angela has started a native plant nursery with like-minded friends and farmers.
Angela and her husband Grant are strong industry innovators, thanks to their ability to embrace new ideas and opportunities. This is particularly evident in their approach to water quality and reducing their environmental footprint.
The McKenzie Family, Pine View — Clinton
Sheep, beef and forestry
Most of the physical work on Pine View is done by this highly motivated family that has owned and operated the property for 100 years.
As well as carrying out most day-to-day operations, the McKenzies have an impressive record when it comes to building the infrastructure themselves. This includes installing a water scheme and central heating boilers, plus building a woolshed and a firewood processor. In addition, they find time for significant involvement in the local community.
Along with running sheep and cattle, the family has 230ha in forestry, with the planting of trees in the 1980s paying dividends now. Today’s family members feel fortunate their forefathers were good farmers who left them a great farm – and they plan to do the same.
Jason Van Lierop, Queensberry Ridges — Cromwell
Dairy support, beef finishing
The block manager of this Cromwell property maintains top-quality crop and pasture by keeping a close eye on nutrient use, and soil and plant quality.
Jason has been farming Queensberry Ridges for six years and grazes 2,300 cows, 500 heifers and 1,000 young stock in winter. He has clear production goals that he wants to achieve while farming sustainably. Great care is taken to not over-work or over-water the cropping soils, including the implementation of annual soil and plant testing and an extensive fertiliser policy.
Keeping the farm tidy and looking after staff are two other priorities, along with following a planting plan. Jason sees himself as a caretaker of the land – striving to leave it in better shape that when he started.
Simon & Joanna Davies, Toko Farms — Milton
Sheep & beef breeding and finishing
This family farm’s success is built on a foundation of teamwork – reflected in the financial, strategic and environmental progress the Davies have made since taking over.
As part of a succession plan, the couple took over the day-to-day operations of the farm in 2011, sharing 50% ownership with Simon’s parents. A pine plantation complements the property’s main business of grazing dairy heifers, lamb breeding and finishing, and beef breeding.
Significant improvements to infrastructure have lifted animal welfare, while a strong commitment to biodiversity means a wide range of native birds are thriving on the property.
The farm’s great presentation – from the front gate to its far corners – is a reflection of the couple’s pride in a place they see as their forever property.
Anna & Ben Gillespie, Two Farmers Farming — Omakau
Beef & dairy grazing
Taking a strategic approach that plays to their strengths is paying off for this couple as they diversify and grow their beef and dairy grazing business.
Over the past two years, they have diversified into beef finishing to complement the original dairy grazing business. Their team approach has resulted in a highly productive business that looks to the future, while still achieving a work-life balance with family at its core.
Highly conscious of the farm’s environmental impact, they’re anticipating future regulatory changes by taking action now. This includes a sophisticated irrigation system, and significant native and shelter-belt plantings.
Looking to the future, the Gillespies have a comprehensive business plan that matches their farm system to the business’s growth curve.