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Inspirational Young Farmers Win Supreme Title in 2013 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards

19 April 2013

Inspirational Young Farmers Win Supreme Title in 2013 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards

An innovative and hard-working young couple has collected the Supreme Award in the 2013 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Central Wairarapa farmers Michael and Karen Williams received the award at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 18, 2013.

Their 224ha arable, lamb finishing and beef unit, Ahiaruhe Farm, was described by BFEA judges as a very well organised business “run by an inspirational young couple”.

The Williams have immense passion for their farming operation, applying considerable business acumen to everyday decisions, judges said.

“They are innovative, hardworking and work as a team to bring their practical farming and business/financial skills together to achieve top results.”

The couple were also awarded the Ballance Agri-Nutrients- Nutrient Management Award and the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.

Mick’s family partnership purchased the original 64ha block in the Gladstone district, east of Carterton, in 1999. Farm size has since been increased through the purchase of neighbouring land, with the property currently totalling 215ha effective, of which 151ha is irrigated.

Mick and Karen, who have three young children, have been farming in their own right since 2009.

They grow a range of crops on the farm’s flat contour, including wheat, barley, ryegrass, peas, red clover and (for seeds) onion, mizuna lettuce, coriander, carrot and celery. Around 3800 lambs are finished annually and the farm also winters 90 yearling bulls which are sold before their second winter to avoid soil damage.

Judges said the Williams focus on maximising production “but not at the cost of their natural resources”.

Their operation generates exceptional production and revenue per hectare, with excellent crop yields achieved through meticulous planning and management.

Soil health was a clear consideration for the Williams, who have a strong awareness of the sustainable requirements of their soil and are “very focused on farming for the long term”.

With the exception of onion seed, all crops are established using a cross-slot drill.

A Whole Farm Nutrient Management Plan enables the accurate matching of nutrient requirements of crops to different paddocks.

Non-effective areas have been retired and the couple has put considerable effort into protecting and enhancing 2ha of bush remnant. Judges also noted the preservation of non-cultivatable flood channels into planted riparian zones.

A 2.8km stretch of the Ruamahanga River along the farm’s boundary has been fenced off, and work continues on smaller waterways.

Judges said Karen’s role as a resource management planner has been a great asset to the business.

They also noted the couple’s strong community involvement.

A BFEA field day will be held on Ahiaruhe Farm on May 15 (to be confirmed).

Winners in the 2013 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Supreme Award, Ballance Agri-Nutrients- Nutrient Management Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award: Michael and Karen Williams, Ahiaruhe Farm, Carterton.

Massey University Discovery Award, PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award, Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award: Jim and Marilyn Law and Kurt and Lisa Portas, Palliser Ridge Ltd, Featherston.

Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award: Ross and Louise Harrington, Awatahuna, Masterton.

Meridian Energy Excellence Award, Waterforce Integrated Management Award, LIC Dairy Farm Award: James and Jane Smallwood and Wilfred and Rachel van Beek, Greytown.

For more information on the 2013 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact BFEA regional coordinator Angeline Colquhoun, phone (06) 3788008 or email wellington@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.