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Committed Farm Owner-Sharemilker Team Takes Home Top Title in Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

18 March 2016

Committed Farm Owner-Sharemilker Team Takes Home Top Title in Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Nukumaru dairy farm owners David and Adrienne Hopkins and sharemilkers Ben and Belinda Price are Supreme winners of the 2016 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Ben and Belinda are in their second season 50:50 sharemilking 680 cows on David and Adrienne’s 248ha property south of Waverley.

At a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 17, the Hopkins and the Prices also collected several category awards, including the PGG Wrightson People in Agriculture Award, the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, and the LIC Dairy Farm Award.

BFEA judges said the couples have an excellent working relationship and their shared enthusiasm for the environment and the farm make it “an outstanding place to live and work”.

“The appearance of the farm and high level of maintenance reflects the hard work and passion of David and Adrienne over the long term and is demonstrated also by Ben and Belinda currently.”

The Hopkins purchased the farm in 1993 and converted the block to dairying. From the very start they had clear ideas about their environmental responsibilities, planting shelter belts and native areas that now make a significant contribution to the farm’s outstanding biodiversity.

More recently, a new wetland area has been created to absorb and filter nitrates and phosphates and eliminate sediment run-off. Students from Waverley School have been involved in planting the wetland, which was planned to cover about half a hectare.

BFEA judges said the Hopkins and the Prices are committed to delivering improvements to the environment. The development of the integrated wetland and waterway system is an excellent example of “leading environmental practice”.

Last season the 235ha (effective) property produced 242,362kgMS. It is managed using a low-input System 2 feeding regime, which suits the farm and the partners perfectly. Cows and weaners are all wintered at home, with replacements grazed off for a year.

The farm has two full-time staff members and one part-time employee.

Nutrient use is carefully considered. Contour spreading of fertiliser helps to improve nutrient utilisation, and no urea is applied to the 65ha area covered by the effluent disposal system.  A 6ha maize crop planted within the effluent block this year is being closely monitored to ensure optimum nutrient management.

Sunflowers grown around the fringes of the maize crop were sold to a Whanganui florist, with the proceeds going to Waverley School.

BFEA judges said both couples are enthusiastic participants in industry and local community organisations and activities, and are committed to excellence in staff management and training.

A BFEA Supreme-winner field day will be held on the Harkaway Trust farm, with the date to be advised.

Winners in the 2016 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Supreme Award, PGG Wrightson People In Agriculture Award, Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with the QEII National Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, LIC Dairy Farm Award: David and Adrienne Hopkins, Harkaway Trust, Ben and Belinda Price, Price Trusts Partnership, Nukumaru, Waverley.

Massey University Innovation Award, Waterforce Integrated Management Award: Grant and Sandra McMillan, McMillan Partnership, Ongarue.

Horizons Regional Council - Integration of Trees Award: Don Hastings and Logan Hastings, Hastings Group Limited, Ohakea.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award: John and Marina Poulton, Rod and Bev Poulton, Kapiti Farm, Dannevirke.

Margaret Matthews Commitment to Sustainability Award, CB Norwood Distributors Ltd Agri-Business Management Award: Tim and Nic Hewitt, Balfour Farm, Pahiatua.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award: Tony Meads and William Meads, Meads Farming Limited – Westbrook, Waituna West.

Hill Laboratories Harvest Award: Woodhaven Gardens, Levin.

For more information on the 2016 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Stella Rackham, ph 06 323 3379, 0274 197 587 or email horizons@bfea.org.nz