18 April 2015
Table Hill farmers Dave and Janene Divers have won the Supreme title in the 2015 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).
The Divers, who farm a 1600ha sheep and beef property ‘Table Hill’, inland from Milton, were presented with the award at a BFEA ceremony on April 17. They also collected the Massey University Innovation Award, the Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award.
BFEA judges described the Divers as an “an extraordinarily focused, motivated and enthusiastic couple” who have embedded their philosophy of ‘Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable Lifestyle’ into their personal and business lives.
Dave and Janene have run family-owned Table Hill for four years. Dave’s parents Lindsay and Jill purchased the farm in 2000, adding more land in 2007 and 2012.
The breeding and finishing operation now winters around 10,800 stock units on 1000ha effective, with sheep making up more than 80% of these stock units. Divers Farms Ltd also operates Cascade Creek Retreat, a luxury eco-tourism enterprise established two and a half years ago.
The impressive farm sits between the east and west branches of the Tokomairiro River. Stock is farmed on fingers of productive land above steep gullies and river gorges containing native bush with trees up to 1000 years old.
Protecting waterways has been a high priority for the Divers. The bulk of the waterways have been fenced and about 500 eco-sourced plants are planted annually.
Judges said the Divers are great custodians of the land. They have a real passion to manage sustainably and a genuine commitment to understand and manage biodiversity on a significant scale.
“Continued development allows the Divers to increase productivity in a sustainable manner as areas are cleared of unproductive gorse and re-grassed, leaving high-producing new pastures and native gullies, free of gorse and broom.”
Judges also noted the farm’s clear livestock breeding programmes and well-matched performance targets that focus on productivity and profitability. Management policies are supported by comprehensive monitoring.
The farm has been digitally mapped to enable variable-rate fertiliser spreading, with judges noting the “best practice management of soils and pastures in challenging areas”.
Dave, a Lincoln graduate, and Janene, a Massey graduate, run the operation with the help of their two employees Jason Renwick and Barry Connor and Dave’s parents, Jill and Lindsay.
Staff management is excellent, judges said. People are valued as a key driver of the business and the Divers are committed to industry training.
“This is an exceptional family whose members are all passionate about what they do and have built a strong network within their farming team resulting in a well-rounded, progressive, intergenerational farming business that will remain robust and successful well into the future.”
A BFEA field day will be held on Table Hill, with the date to be announced.
Winners in the 2015 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:
Supreme award, Massey University Innovation Award, Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award and Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award: Dave and Janene Divers, Divers Farms Ltd, Table Hill.
PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award: Bill and Pam McCall, ‘Viewlands’, Waikoikoi.
Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Alliance Quality Livestock Award: Richard and Kerry France, ‘Longview Farm’, Tapanui.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Otago Regional Council Water Quality Management Award: Wilson and Angela Wylie, ‘Glenelgin’, Owaka.
For more information on the 2015 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Otago BFEA regional coordinator Camille McAtamney, ph 03 418 3972, 027 418 3414, or email firstname.lastname@example.org