14 April 2020
2020 finalists: Sam & Liz Barton of Montana Pastoral - 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.
Montana Pastoral was entered into the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because Liz and Sam saw it as a way of enhancing their vision and strengthening their already clear goals for the property.
The couple bought into the equity partnership with Phil and Jenny McGimpsey in 2015 and now farm just over 4,000 sheep and 100 beef on the property. Their business goals are clear: to produce to a very high standard while minimising environmental impact. Equally important is achieving a work-life balance, so there’s a big focus on spending quality time with friends and family. In their own words, wealth is one thing, but life-rich is everything.
The judges were impressed with how the Bartons use monitoring and measuring as they strive to improve their farming practice. There’s extensive recording of stock health and movements, plus a close eye is kept on soil and nutrient management. Nutrient requirements are adjusted annually based on soil tests and the analysis of stock output, while further testing informs grass production and health. The results speak for themselves, with the property boasting excellent pastures and stock performance.
There’s shelter and shade in most paddocks and 42ha is planted in large trees – part of an ongoing tree planting and harvesting programme. Troughs are in most paddocks and there are plans to reticulate water to every paddock within three years.
All farm practices are guided by a comprehensive business plan and the judges commended the couple for continually sharpening their business skills through industry initiatives, self-development and professional learning.