15 April 2020
Here are our wonderful 2020 entrants for the Taranaki 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.
Alan Ancell and Delphine Petrowski, Ancell Farms — Toko
Dairy grazing, sheep & beef
Born on this Stratford farm, Alan bought into partnership with his parents in 1982 and since then has realised his vision for its growth and development.
Under Alan’s guidance, the farm has significantly grown in size and in 2003 shifted from dairy to dry grazing dairy cows, sheep and beef. Thanks to his determination and the help of others, the property now features about 16ha of QEII National Trust covenants complemented by small pockets of fenced-off native bush.
Environmental sustainability has always been important, with Alan fencing off drains years before it was regulated. Careful fertiliser application is guided by regular soil testing.
Before selling the property, Alan was keen to showcase how farmers care for their land and environment.
Lynelle & Paul Kuriger, Crystal Rivers — Stratford
The team at Crystal Rivers is focused on building a strong, enduring farming business that allows them to thrive while being kaitiaki (guardians) of the land.
The company is owned by two couples – Lynelle & Paul Kuriger and Jessica Gower & Tony Riley – who collectively have a strong vision for the farm. They recently took their first big environmental step by building a loafing barn for wintering and calving, with excellent results in terms of both animal welfare and reducing workload.
Significant areas of native plants and wetlands are being enhanced by ongoing planting, while animal pests are actively controlled.
The owners are striving for a financially viable, environmentally sustainable business that cares for both animals and people.
Robert & Verna Bourke, Conna & Nick Smith, Fern Flats — Patea
The Bourkes have a strong connection to Fern Flats – a property that has been in the family since 1873 – and the resulting sense of stewardship is obvious.
Now operated under a family trust, the property has grown in size since Robert and wife Verna took over and combined two smaller properties into the modern farm of today.
With the help of 50:50 sharemilkers – daughter Conna Smith and her husband Nick – new systems have been embraced and there’s a focus on reducing the environmental footprint of this low-input farm that breeds highly productive cows.
Significant plantings are encouraging bird life to flourish at this beautifully kept farm that continually moves with the times to ensure it remains viable into the future.
Steve Lepper, Lepper Trust — Lepperton
Innovation and efficiency are the cornerstones of this pig farming operation which boasts a pioneering biogas system that converts methane into electricity and heat – significantly reducing emissions.
The farrow-to-finish pig farming operation runs 400 sows, producing quality fresh pork for the New Zealand market. It uses an environmentally friendly production system and is accredited by an on-farm animal welfare assurance programme. There’s a strong focus on biosecurity and water quality, while innovative approaches have resulted in zero waste.
The first of its kind in New Zealand, the biogas system has reduced methane emissions by 70%. It captures methane from the farm’s effluent ponds, converting the gas into electricity. Meanwhile, heat from the engine warms water used for underfloor heating.
Rhys & Tamara Parry, Peter & Joanne George, Page Dairies — Hawera
Page Dairies was a blank canvas when the current owners took over about five years ago and they have been in development mode ever since – with dramatic results.
Productivity has lifted significantly thanks to breeding, herd improvement and nutrition. Farm management has become more efficient – largely due to property improvements. These include better water races and fencing, the addition of a 250-cow feed pad and installation of an effluent system that allows the capture and reapplication of nutrients.
Enhancing the environment is another focus, with significant native plants put in and more planned, while all wetlands are fenced and planted.
Thanks to careful planning, Page Dairies is a great example of how farms can balance profitability with looking after the environment.
The Brown Family, Rukumoana Farms — Eltham & Stratford
Sheep & beef
This cohesive family unit is successfully driving the three properties that make up Rukumoana Farms.
The farm hosts dairy grazers and fattens cattle, plus runs almost 6,500 sheep. Keen to leave a positive legacy, the family strives hard to produce quality stock while improving the farm’s environmental footprint. Rukumoana Farm has excellent infrastructure and the Browns show a willingness to try new things in innovative ways.
Significant plantings are off-setting greenhouse gas emissions, while native bush has been retired and wetland areas fenced off.
The property has significantly grown in size during the 34 years that Robert and Jane have been involved and planning is now well underway to ensure a smooth succession to their family.
Ron, Noel and Karl Stanley, Stanley Brothers Trust — Opunake
Pork producer, cropping, fattening cattle
There’s been a big investment in future-proofing at this Opunake property, with the Stanley brothers embracing new technologies to drive productivity and animal welfare.
While pork production is the farm’s main business, it is bolstered by two additional income streams – beef fattening and cropping.
The Stanleys have owned the farm for about 70 years and, during that time, have significantly grown and developed the business. They have established sustainable systems to set the property up for the next generation and their willingness to implement new technology is paying off.
Protecting and caring for the natural environment is a priority as the brothers strive to ensure products of the highest quality leave the gate.