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Focus on Sustainable Farming Earns Couple Supreme Title in 2013 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

9 March 2013

Focus on Sustainable Farming Earns Couple Supreme Title in 2013 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

An “impressively balanced approach” to the management of their Waituna West hill-country farm has won Curwen and Marija Hare the Supreme Award in the 2013 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 8 (2013), the Hares, who farm 275ha (230ha effective) north of Feilding, also collected the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

Last year the couple’s farm ‘Ewanrigg’ wintered 1050 ewes, 350 hoggets and 200 dairy heifer grazers on contour that ranges from flat to moderately steep.

BFEA judges praised the Hares’ management of the farm given its natural limitations which include steep contour, varied soil types (with some wet soils), wind exposure and limited natural water.

They praised the couple’s “commitment to detail” and their use of expert knowledge to steer their business through a period of significant debt loading.

Judges also noted the adoption of a Horizons Regional Council Sustainable Land Use Initiative plan (SLUI) which has helped the couple embrace the sustainable farming concept and had a major effect on how they run the farm.

“This is an excellent example of adapting outside knowledge to maximise production and manage within some considerable natural limitations, without having a detrimental effect on the environment.”

Ewanrigg was purchased by the Hare family’s Tuatahi Farm Partnership (which includes Curwen’s parents) in 1982 to complement the original farm “Tuatahi’, which was settled by Curwen’s grandfather in 1894.

Six years ago the Hares made the difficult decision to sell ‘Tuatahi’, downsizing to one farm.

Since then Curwen and Marija, who have three adult sons, have conducted significant subdivision on Ewanrigg, using the SLUI plan as a basis for this work as well as the fencing of 7km of steep gorge country.

Almost 12 percent of the farm is now fenced and retired.

Stock water is supplied by a two-dam system, with the top dam acting primarily as a silt trap. About 75 percent of water is gravity fed to troughs. A solar-powered system is used to pump water from the dams to a storage/header tank before distribution to troughs.

Permanently flowing streams have been fenced, and judges praised the excellent riparian management and plantings on the farm.

While natural water isn’t abundant, they said, the water that is available is “very well managed in terms of quantity and quality”.

Judges also noted the high level of stock production achieved on Ewanrigg. Grazing management is carefully planned, and high-producing mixed pastures (including chicory and plantain) are grown to boost the weight of lambs and dairy grazers.

A BFEA field day will be held on Ewanrigg, with the date to be advised.

Winners in the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Supreme Award, Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award: Curwen and Marija Hare- Tuatahi Farming Partnership, Waituna West, Feilding.

Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Ballance Nutrient Management Award: Ross Collier, Pentwyn Farms, Taihape.

Massey University Discovery Award, Meridian Energy Excellence Award: Richard and Rachel Steele, Retaruke Station, Taumarunui.

Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award: Paul McGlade and Robin Weir, Whareti, Taumarunui.

PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award: Chalky and Lesley Leary and leasees Robbie and Rachel Deans, Onga, Hunterville.

Horizons Regional Council Award (for the integration of trees): Te Uranga B2 Incorporation, Upoko, Taumarunui, manager Jack Valois.

LIC Dairy Farm Award: Te Uranga B2 Incorporation, Paatara, Taumarunui, sharemilkers Dean and Lucy Marshall.

Margaret Matthews Cup (for commitment to sustainability): Vonda Houpapa, Committee of Management, Te Uranga B2 Incorporation.

For more information on the 2013 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Shelley Dew-Hopkins, ph (06) 328 2854, 027 228 6239, email admin@bfea.org.nz