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Diverse Family Business Scoops Supreme Award In 2014 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards

21 February 2014

Diverse Family Business Scoops Supreme Award In 2014 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Photo: Left to right, Bruce and Jo Graham and Rob and Sandra Faulkner

Muriwai farmers Rob and Sandra Faulkner and Bruce and Jo Graham have been named Supreme winners of the 2014 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Faulkners and the Grahams run a 600ha family farm ‘Wairakaia’, south of Gisborne.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on February 20, Wairakaia also collected the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and The East Coast Farming For The Future Award.

Wairakaia is a sheep, beef and cropping operation, running about 5000 stock units on contour that ranges from flat to very steep and growing about 190ha of maize, squash and seed corn on owned and leased land. The business has 32ha of forestry, 10ha of citrus and 1ha of Tree Lucerne. It also has a poplar nursery that supplies the farm and sells around 1000 poles annually.

BFEA judges noted the farm’s high-producing, quality stock and good mix of genetics. The cropping programme has been successfully integrated with stock finishing and the operation achieves consistent crop yields, with the inclusion of citrus providing increased diversity.

Judges also noted the excellent pasture and soil management and the consideration given to effects on both land and water.

The farm was originally settled by Rob and Jo’s great-grand parents in 1900. Subsequent generations of the family planted trees for agroforestry, erosion control and aesthetics and this foresight is acknowledged and appreciated by Rob and Jo and their spouses, Sandra and Bruce.

These plantings have provided significant benefits in terms of erosion control and riparian protection and the planting of woodlots has helped succession planning. Timber from the farm has also been used to build the woolshed and homesteads.

Bisected by State Highway 2, Wairakaia is a highly visible farm and the partners are very conscious of public scrutiny. Erosion control is ongoing and the planting is varied, with BFEA judges noting the “careful selection of biodiversity plantings for public viewing”.

While all partners contribute to the running of the business, Rob and Bruce form the core working partnership. Each has a defined role and complementary skills.

BFEA judges praised the structure of the business which enables the family to maintain its partnership “during intense development and off-farm activities at national, regional and local levels”.

Sandra, a 2012 Nuffield scholar, is heavily involved in agri-politics and Jo teaches at Gisborne Girls’ High School.

Bruce and Jo have two daughters, Amanda (12) and Nicki (10). Rob and Sandra have two sons, William (10) and George (8).

A BFEA field day will be held on Wairakaia on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

Winners In the 2014 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Supreme Award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Massey University Innovation Award and the (HBRC GDC) East Coast Farming For The Future Award; Rob and Sandra Faulkner and Bruce and Jo Graham, Muriwai.

Meridian Energy Excellence Award; Art and Jill Eastham, Whatatutu.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award; Bruce Nimon, Hastings.

PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award; Richard and Robyn Busby, Makorori Station, Whangara.

WaterForce Integrated Management Award; Leicester and Margaret Gray and Callum and Sarah Gray, Waipawa.

Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award; Tom and Linda Savage, Te Karaka.

LIC Merit Award; Dave and Tracey Thompson, Takapau.

For more information on the 2014 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact BFEA East Coast regional coordinator Kate Taylor, ph (06) 8558 599, 027 603 2200, or email eastcoast@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, emaildavid.natzke@nzfeatrust.org.nz.