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Outstanding Husband and Wife Team Claims Supreme Title in 2016 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards

7 April 2016

Outstanding Husband and Wife Team Claims Supreme Title in 2016 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Martinborough sheep and beef farmers Daniel and Reidun Nicholson are the Supreme winners of the 2016 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Described by judges as “an outstanding husband and wife team with a strong community commitment”, the couple farms 607ha of hill country in the Ponatahi Valley, north of Martinborough.

They were awarded the Supreme title at a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 6 (2016), also receiving the CB Norwood Distributors Agri-business Management Award, Massey University Innovation Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award.

Judges said their property, Tokaroa Farm, is “an excellent example of dry land farming in the Wairarapa”.

Originally purchased by Dan’s parents Patricia and the late Matthew in 1977, Tokaroa winters about 6200 stock units on 585ha effective, with a 75:25 sheep to beef ratio. It is run in conjunction with 800ha Bush Gully Station, managed by Dan’s brother, Matt. Reidun, a vet, takes care of financial records for the whole business.

BFEA judges said Dan and Reidun are part of an exceptional family venture with an impressive governance structure “that will ensure this progressive and intergenerational business will remain robust and successful well into the future”.

Reflecting its summer dry location, Tokaroa’s stock policy is designed to capture early market opportunities and minimise risk. About 110ha of crops, including plantain, clovers and pasja, are used for lamb finishing, with 70% of terminal lambs weaned off their mothers in mid-November and sent straight to the works.
 
Judges said the Nicholsons have an excellent understanding of the various soil types on their farm and are committed to leading science and research for the benefit of the wider farming community in summer dry areas.

Tokaroa hosts numerous forage trials and is used as a practical placement for second year vet students, and also for young teenagers who are part of Taratahi’s PITA programme. Dan is a member of the Massey University learning group which encourages connections between farmers and scientists.

Judges also noted the impressive conservation plantings on the property. Dan and Reidun, who have three children, have continued the erosion control work begun by Dan's father, planting thousands of poplars on the farm.

“Conservation plantings are excellent and as well as serving the farm aesthetically they provide shade and fodder in dry summers,” said judges.

About 14ha of gullies and steeper contour containing manuka and kanuka have been fenced off and under-planted with natives, and more planting and stream fencing is planned.

A BFEA Supreme-winner field day will be held on Tokaroa Farm on April 29, 2016.

Winners in the 2016 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Supreme award, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, CB Norwood Distributors Agri-business Management Award, Massey University Innovation Award; Dan and Reidun Nicholson, Tokaroa Farm, Martinborough.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEll National Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust; Richard and Becks Tosswill, Te Awaawa, Masterton.

PGG Wrightson People in Agriculture Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award; Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough Ltd, Martinborough.

LIC Dairy Farm Award; Blair and Deanne Percy, Masterton.

For more information on the 2016 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact BFEA regional coordinator Georgie Cranswick, ph 06 379 9360, 021 0235 6192 or email wellington@bfea.org.nz