14 April 2020
Mark & Felicity Brough of Paerua - Sheep and Beef.
Native birds have returned, and water quality has improved, since the Broughs took over Paerua about 20 years ago – reflecting their respect of land, animals, soil and water. Land use is carefully matched to land capability and the couple is embracing upcoming regulatory changes.
Mark and Felicity entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards to demonstrate that it’s not hard to be an environmental farmer and how enjoyable the end-product is.
The Waitomo sheep and beef, breeding and store fattening farm runs about 170 weaner bulls and steer calves, and 2,150 sheep. The judges praised the Broughs for skillfully matching land use to land capability. They were also impressed with grazing management that maintains pasture cover and minimises the risk to soils.
Native birds, fish and invertebrates are flourishing on the property, thanks to extensive planting around streams and ponds, and significant fencing of wetlands and drains. The judges commended an innovative biosecurity map that indicates where significant species live. Two large dams with wetland areas have been created and the couple is planning to fence off significant blocks of mature native bush. Poplar poles control erosion, almost all paddocks have water troughs, and beehives encourage clover growth.
The judges were impressed with how the Broughs are approaching upcoming regulatory changes such as freshwater standards – embracing them as a positive step for both themselves and the farm. Mark and Felicity have strong off-farm connections, both locally and nationally, and are keen to help other farmers learn from their successes – as well as their failures.
As they strive to be successful and profitable environmental farmers, the Broughs are very focused on preserving the precious resources that make farming possible: soil and water. Their focus on water was noted by the judges who said a stream cutting through the property runs clear – even after rainfall.