8 April 2016
Puahue dairy farmers John Hayward and Susan O’Regan are Supreme winners of the 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 7 (2016), the couple also collected the LIC Dairy Farm Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award.
Based on 245ha of flat to steep contour east of Te Awamutu, their operation, Judge Valley Dairies Ltd, was described by BFEA judges “as a highly productive farm that works well in a challenging landscape while balancing environmental care”.
This season, Judge Valley Dairies is milking 485 cows on a 140ha milking platform, targeting production of 235,000kgMS. Heifers and dry cows are grazed on the balance of the farm, which is also home to protected and regenerating native bush, “thoughtfully developed” wetlands and 5ha of Manuka grown for honey production.
Judges praised the couple’s proactive approach to business and environmental sustainability.
“Robust management decisions are made to apply the appropriate land use to the different capabilities of the farm. Very impressive riparian planting, sediment and erosion control measures have been implemented on the property.”
John and Susan, a former barrister, have worked closely with the Waikato Regional Council to develop an environmental programme that highlights future planting plans. Wetland areas have been securely fenced to exclude stock, and vegetation in these areas is dominated by native wetland species.
Judge Valley Dairies is John and Susan’s first farming venture together. They purchased the original block in 2008, adding a neighbouring drystock unit in 2012 and undertaking a major infrastructural upgrade that includes the construction of a 30-aside herringbone dairy, race, water and effluent system.
A new feedpad built in 2013 has helped the operation improve feed conversion efficiency while lifting cow health and condition.
Judges said a thorough financial analysis is undertaken prior to making capital improvements “to ensure the most economic outcome is achieved”.
The Manuka operation – a joint venture with Comvita – makes good use of marginal land, mitigating erosion and reducing overall nitrogen leaching on the property. A further 8ha of planting is underway.
John and Susan, who employ two full-time staff members and one casual, first entered the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2015, winning the Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award and the LIC Dairy Farm Award.
Judge Valley Dairies will host a BFEA Supreme-winner field day on May 12, 2016.
Winners in the 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:
Supreme award, LIC Dairy Farm Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award and Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award; John Hayward and Susan O’Regan, Judge Valley Dairies, Puahue.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award; Warren and Cindy Clayton Greene, Glenview Station, Te Kuiti.
Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Massey University Innovation Award, PGG Wrightson People In Agriculture Award, CB Norwood Distributors Agri-Business Management Award; Neil Aicken and Haylee Jones, Waikawa Farms Trust, Onewhero.
Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEll National Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, Waikato River Authority Catchment Improvement Award; Stuart Muir and Kim Jobson, Te Nihi Nihi, Waiuku.
For more information on the 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Waikato BFEA regional coordinator Liz Stolwyk, ph (027) 571 6206, email firstname.lastname@example.org