22 July 2015
Pictured: Andrea Hanna, National Judging Coordinator
Entries for the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on August 1, 2015.
Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, the awards promote best-practice land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a way that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
Open to all farming and horticultural types, the 2016 awards will be held in 11 regions, with Auckland joining the popular competition for the first time.
NZFE Trust National Judging Co-ordinator Andrea Hanna says every farmer, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists, should give it a go.
“Most people enter because they want high quality feedback on how their farming operation stacks up in terms of environmental and economic sustainability,” she says.
Entering the free competition is as easy as filling out a form, available online at www.bfea.org.nz . There is also an option for entrants to have entry forms mailed to them, if preferred.
The judging process is conducted in a relaxed and friendly manner, and judges always take climatic factors into account.
Mrs Hanna says the competition offers an excellent educational opportunity for any farmer wanting to learn more about how to improve business profitability and environmental management. Past-entrants have described their participation as a highly worthwhile experience.
“It’s not just targeted at top farmers. Every farmer should take the opportunity to enter.”
The awards cover a wide range of categories, so farmers who are performing well in one specific area have a chance of picking up a category award.
Supreme winners from each region are honoured at NZFE Trust’s annual Sustainability Showcase, where the prestigious Gordon Stephenson trophy is presented to a National Winner.
This year the trophy and National Winner title went to Bay of Plenty’s John and Catherine Ford, who strongly urge all farmers to enter the 2016 competition.
“We need to promote our industry by providing examples of the things farmers are doing to care for the environment,” says John Ford.
He and Catherine and their valued staff found the judging process both educational and inspirational.
“Our whole team bought into it, and it was a fantastic team-building exercise,” he says.
“We think every farmer will get something out of being involved in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. It gives you a huge confidence boost when the judges say you are doing a good job. And if you are not on the right track, the judges will give you direction on how to get there.”
Andrea Hanna says the awards prove that sound environmental practises and good business management go hand in hand. Farmers who participate in the competition are also encouraged to share ideas and innovations with the wider farming community.
More information on the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards is available on the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website.