14 April 2020
2020 finalists: Damien Watson & Joan Barendsen of Renown - Dairy.
This property has the ‘wow’ factor, thanks to a commitment to beautification and biodiversity that is equal to the focus on performance and profitability. Significant investment in innovation and sustainability is paying off at this property that is owned by Wairakei Estate and leased by Landcorp Farming Pāmu.
Farm Manager Damien and Business Manager Joan entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because they are proud that Renown has become a top performer in many aspects of pastoral farming – from cow and grass, to environment, people, culture and safety.
The judges were impressed with Renown’s significant infrastructure that includes a rotary dairy, monitored effluent systems and large calf-rearing facilities. They commended the well-maintained buildings and roads, and how run-off is diverted from waterways.
Renown takes a proactive approach to animal health, with the welfare of stock being key to any decision-making. River water is pumped to the farm and reticulated to all paddocks and there is a strong focus on actively managing predators and weeds. Strategic grazing is used to reduce nutrient and sediment loss from winter crops, while there are sophisticated fertiliser and effluent management systems.
Damien and Joan strive hard to ensure Renown performs to its full potential, with the environment treated equally as important as farm performance and profitability. The judges praised the business’s commitment to enhancing and encouraging native plants and wildlife on all areas of the property. A well-maintained fence excludes stock from remnant native habitats, while river margins and drains have been planted. The judges said riparian management is excellent, with large buffers containing pockets of existing native vegetation, and the farm’s wetland dominated by native species.
Wellness is recognised as an important rural concern and the judges were impressed with how staff are supported with a health and wellbeing programme.