14 April 2020
2020 finalists: Bryan Frederick & Stu Morgan of Waikeria Prison Farm - Dairy
Waikeria Prison Farm is a prison with a difference, training about 30 prisoners daily at its on-site, commercial-scale dairy training farm. There’s a strong focus on environmentally sustainable farming practices as the prisoners work toward recognised industry qualifications – enhancing employment opportunities on release.
Waikeria Prison Farm was entered into the Ballance Farm Environment Awards to help raise its profile and so staff and prisoners could learn new ways of improving practices.
Owned by the Department of Corrections, the Te Awamutu property is striving to become a self-sustaining dairy farm that operates a class-leading milking system. The judges were impressed with how Waikeria prioritises people, strategically moving to once-a-day milking which works well for prisoners and staff – as well as the cows. They have increased training outcomes for the men in their care, while improving work-life balance for staff.
Each of Waikeria’s three dairy units have their own Farm Environment Plans that are adapted as new risk areas are identified. The judges commended the managers for regularly using external professional advice.
The managers are committed to building environmentally sustainable farming practices that better balance the needs of the land, animals and staff. Their approach means they have maintained production while significantly reducing costs.
Almost 200,000 riparian, wetland and woodland plants have been put in, including thousands of natives. Pest plants and animals are actively managed and biosecurity controls are implemented across the essentially ‘closed’ farming operation.
There’s a strong focus on improving animal health and all feed is grown on the property. Enhancing the surrounding environment is a critical part of a new 600-person facility that’s being built, with the project including such things as enhancing wetland and riparian areas, water quality and habitats. The judges were impressed with how on-site nurseries are used to grow eco-sourced seed, with the plants then used on-farm.