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Brother and Sister claim top title in Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards

28 March 2013

Brother and Sister claim top title in Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Outstanding management of their “high input, very sustainable farming system” has earned Kokopu siblings Shayne and Charmaine O’Shea the Supreme Award in the 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Shayne and Charmaine’s dairy farm, 12km west of Whangarei, was described by Ballance Farm Environment Award (BFEA) judges as an aesthetically-pleasing, well-presented property that achieves excellent production at minimal cost to the environment.

“All aspects of the business are sustainable and profitable and there is a clear balance between the financial performance of the operation, followed by the environment and socially sustainable aspects.”

Shayne and Charmaine learnt of their win at a BFEA ceremony on March 27, where they also collected the LIC Dairy Farm Award and the Northland Regional Council Water Quality Enhancement Award.

Their operation spans 233ha, with 380 Jersey cows milked on a dairy platform of 93ha.

Maize and grass silage is grown-off farm and palm kernel is bought in to support production that has averaged 1565kgMS/ha over the last three seasons.

The farm is situated on Kokopu Road near the Kara Road intersection and this highly visible location has helped shaped farm policy. Visual impacts of dairying have been carefully managed and the farm is always kept in top shape.

BFEA judges praised the excellent overall livestock management practises and feeding systems on the farm.

Good stock condition reflected a strong passion for livestock, they said, with a solid focus on quality adding value to the breeding programme.

They also noted the farm’s excellent effluent management system which utilises a three pond system, with water from the third pond recycled for cleaning the feed pad. A new land application and reticulation system has also been installed.

Judges noted the farm has consent to discharge into a waterway but there is a strong endeavour not to use this.

“There is a very clear objective to have an efficient and effective effluent management system working to achieve nil discharge.”

Waterways have been fenced to a very high standard to exclude stock. Riparian areas have been extensively planted with species that include flaxes, poplars, manuka, cabbage trees and willows.

Strong business practises were also very evident on the farm.

“Shayne and Charmaine are both passionate about dairy farming, having established their business partnership on a very professional basis, with each having clearly defined roles within the business,” judges said.

They praised Shayne’s staff management and his enthusiasm for training staff and bringing young people into the business. His off-farm activities include judging at shows and calf clubs, and participating in farm discussion groups.

Charmaine, a chartered accountant specialising in farm accounting, is responsible for the majority of planning and management of farm finances.

“Both partners make a point of having a life beyond the business, having set up their management systems and delegated responsibilities to staff, so enabling them to escape, confident the business will carry on without them.”

A BFEA field day will be held on the Supreme Award-winning property on Wednesday, May 1.

Winners in the 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Supreme Award, LIC Dairy Farm Award, Northland Regional Council Water Quality Enhancement Award: Shayne and Charmaine O’Shea, sos co.ltd, Whangarei.

Ballance Nutrient Management Award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, Waterforce Integrated Management Award: Ken and Janine Hames, Ewenny, Paparoa.

Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Massey University Discovery Award, Meridian Energy Excellence Award: Rod and Cyndy MacIvor, Marsden Estate, Kerikeri.

PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award: Paton Family Trust (Bruce and Julie Paton), Manaia Park Estate, Ruakaka.

Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award: Dennis and Rachelle O'Callaghan, Temataa, Kaitaia.

For more information on the 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Chris Mason, Northland BFEA regional coordinator, phone 09 438 3109 or email northland@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.