15 August 2014
Entering the 2014 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped Mark Chrystall and his partners benchmark the progress of their “hybrid” farming venture.
Along with his brother Richard and fellow farmer Rob Collier, Mark runs Spring Farms (NZ) Ltd, a large-scale sheep and beef operation that carries 25,000 stock units spread across six different farms.
Mark describes Spring Farms as a ‘hybrid’ set-up “because it combines the values of a family-run farm with the governance and financial planning advantages of a corporate business.”
Last year the company entered two farms into the 2014 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards – the Chrystall family’s 148ha ‘Tikirere’ on the Taihape-Napier Road, and an 896ha Kawhatau Valley farm owned by the Chrystall and van den Hout families. Both properties are leased to Spring Farms.
BFEA judges awarded the operation three category awards, including the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award. This award recognises dry stock farmers who demonstrate in a practical way the choices that have been made to farm for the long term. When assessing this award, judges consider the wise use of land, labour and capital resource. They also consider animal health and the careful matching of stock class and type to land contour and soil type.
Mark says Spring Farms regards its Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award “as a solid endorsement of where we stand as a sheep and beef operation”.
“We are passionate about producing a good product, and we always tried to farm in an environmentally-friendly manner. It sounds a bit cliché to say this, but we genuinely want to leave the farm in better shape for the next generation. That’s why we look at things the way we do.”
Mark says winning three category awards this year was a big thrill for the families involved in the company.
“We first entered the awards about eight years ago and although we didn’t win anything, we learnt a lot from the experience. So it’s good to look back at that now and realise just how far we have come.”
Mark says the judging process was enjoyable and rewarding.
“It was all pretty informal. We did a presentation for the judges, they asked us questions and we asked them questions. Their comments were very encouraging, and at the end of it they came up with a constructive report that suggested things we could do to improve in future.”
Mark says Spring Farms will definitely enter the competition again. He would also encourage other farmers to participate.
“It’s a very good way to benchmark your operation.”
He says the awards-evening was well run, providing an excellent opportunity to network with other farmers who share the same values.
“Being involved with this competition confirms that it is possible for your farming operation to be both profitable and sustainable.”
Entries for 2015 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on September 19, 2014. Entering the competition is easy and entry forms are available online at www.bfea.org.nz
For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, phone 07 834 0400, firstname.lastname@example.org.
or visit web www.bfea.org.nz