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Ballance Farm Environment Awards Recognise People-Focus On Wairarapa Farm

19 August 2013

Ballance Farm Environment Awards Recognise People-Focus On Wairarapa Farm

Even though they won three category awards in their first time in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Jim and Marilyn Law know there is still plenty of work to be done on their coastal Wairarapa farm.

The Laws own Palliser Ridge, an 823ha (effective) sheep and beef operation spanning three properties near Pirinoa in southern Wairarapa.

Last year they entered the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) and were surprised to win the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award, the Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award and the Massey University Discovery Award.

Jim says they were initially reluctant to enter the competition because they felt the farm wasn’t ready. But, encouraged by their fertiliser rep and the Greater Wellington Regional Council, they decided to “give it a whirl”.

BFEA judges were clearly impressed with the operation, praising the farm’s “park-like feel”, well organised governance and strong productive performance.

Judges also noted the solid relationship between the Laws and their young manager Kurt Portas and his wife Lisa, who share common objectives for the farm.

Jim says although it took some time to bring all the information together for their entry, it was a worthwhile exercise and the benefits of being involved in the competition were considerable.

“The judges made some very favourable comments about our business and they also offered constructive criticism, politely pointing out areas that we could improve on in future.”

Over the years the Laws have planted numerous shelterbelts on the farm while also conducting considerable riparian work, including wetland restoration.

The Laws also focus heavily on the people side of the business, supporting their local community and encouraging their young staff into further education.

This was a key factor in Palliser Ridge being awarded the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award - an award that recognises pride and passion for the land, community spirit, intergenerational thinking, good farm safety practices and strong relationships with people inside and outside the farming business.

Jim, a former corporate executive and past chairman of the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, believes education is crucial to the industry’s future.

“I’ve worked in countries where young people have been denied educations and never reached their full potential. But if you give young people an education, you give them a chance.”

Education is also a key driving force behind the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, and Jim says he and his team learnt much from being involved in the competition.

“I’d strongly recommend the Awards to other farmers. Most Kiwis tend to be modest and reluctant to put themselves out there, but this competition has a lot to offer those who give it a go.”

Jim says while the judges had considerable expert knowledge “they certainly weren’t professorial types and they were very easy to get on with”.

He says the awards night was “a classy affair”.

“Overall, I’d say the competition is a very good experience and I’m glad we got involved.”

Entries for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards are now open. Entry forms are available at www.bfea.org.nz

More information on the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, including regional closing dates, can be found on the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website.

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.