13 April 2013
An extraordinary cropping and wholesale business run by two families has won the Supreme Award in the 2013 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
Jock Webster, Nick Webster and Peter Mitchell of the Mitchell Webster Group received the special award at a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony in Wanaka on April 12, 2013.
Producing bird and animal feed, their intensive cropping business spans 1380ha of arable land in North Otago and is based from the Mitchell family’s historic ‘Rosedale’ farm at Weston.
The Mitchell and Webster families joined forces in 1972, creating, said BFEA judges, “an extraordinary and inspirational family business that has withstood the test of time”.
The Mitchell Webster Group encapsulates two businesses – Topflite Ltd, a birdseed and small animal feed business, and Mitchell and Webster Ltd, the growing operation that specialises in the production of sunflower and canary seed, along with a range of other crops including feed wheat, barley, ryegrass, hybrid rape, potatoes, Lucerne, fodder beet and maize and grass silage.
Formed as part of a diversification strategy, Topflite now sells around 1600 tonnes of birdseed mixes and associated products annually in Australasia.
Mitchell Webster Group owns around 700ha (most of which is irrigated) and sharefarms or leases another 680ha. The business has 18 fulltime employees, with up to 40 staff on board during busy periods.
Jock, Peter and Nick are directors of both companies and an independent advisor is involved on each board. Jock oversees Topflite, with Peter and Nick working together to run the farming company.
BFEA judges were impressed with the group’s “remarkable in-business practise, clear lines of communication and demarcation of roles through the development of a formal business structure, maintaining a strong business partnership between the two families”.
They also praised the growing arm’s sustainable cropping regime. This long-term sustainability focus was achieved through research and crop trials, wise rotations and agri-chemical use, and comprehensive recording and monitoring.
Exceptional management was a feature of the large scale operation, judges said.
They also noted the strong community participation of both families and the value placed on family time. The families are involved in a wide range of school, sporting and industry groups.
As well as the Supreme Award, the Mitchell Webster Group also collected the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Massey University Discovery Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients-Nutrient Management Award.
A BFEA field day will be hosted by the Supreme Award winners on Wednesday May 15, 2013.
Winners in the 2013 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:
Supreme Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Massey University Discovery Award, Ballance Agri-Nutrients-Nutrient Management Award: Mitchell Webster Group, Mitchell and Webster families, Rosedale, Weston.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, ORC Sustainable Resource Management Award, Alliance Quality Livestock Award: Alistair and Duncan Campbell and families, Earnscleugh Station Ltd, Alexandra.
LIC Dairy Farm Award, Meridian Energy Excellence Award: Terry and Jacqui Carr, Argyll Dairy Farm, Clydevale.
PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award, WaterForce Integrated Water Management Award:Stuart and Lorraine and Graeme and Alison Duncan, Penvose Farms, Wedderburn.
Donaghy's Farm Stewardship Award: Tom and Jan Pinckney, Northburn Station, Cromwell.
For more information on the 2013 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
For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, phone 07 834 0400, email@example.com.