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Teaching Farm Wins Top Award in East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards

8 March 2013

Teaching Farm Wins Top Award in East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards

A well-known Hawke’s Bay station and training farm has taken out the Supreme title in the 2013 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm also collected several category awards at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 7, 2013.

Managed by Terry and Judy Walters, the 5054ha (3186ha effective) sheep, beef and deer farm near Tikokino, northwest of Waipukurau, is home to 22 cadets who are presented with a wide range of learning opportunities during the two years they live and work on the property.

BFEA judges said the intensely scrutinised station sets and achieves high benchmarks.

“As a working farm Smedley not only practises profitable and sustainable management, it also teaches this ethos to tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.”

Smedley Station was bequeathed to the Crown in 1919 by Josiah Howard who wanted the farm to be used for agricultural training.

Terry Walters, who previously worked as stock manager on Smedley, was appointed manager in 2002. He reports to the Josiah Howard Estate advisory board and the Public Trust farm unit manager.

Over the last decade the station has undergone a period of significant consolidation. This includes the sale of outlying blocks and the purchase of two large neighbouring stations – Onepoto and Ridgelands –which are managed separately but with activities dovetailing into the Smedley block.

Last year the mainly rolling to steep hill-country station wintered 28,500 stock units, including 11,500 ewes, 500 breeding cows 365 breeding hinds and 450 velveting stags.

As well as its role as a training facility, Smedley also hosts a wide range of visitors and interest groups.

The station continues to fence, retire and protect areas of native bush, with 150ha transferred into QE II national covenants in the last 10 years. Cadets are heavily involved in this bush protection project which instils them with good environmental values.

Judges said Smedley Station owes much of its rich diversity to its close proximity to the Ruahine Forest Park, and the foresight of early management decisions to retain large areas of native bush.

“Hundreds of hectares of retired indigenous bush and well-maintained pastures dotted with totara that have been retained for shade and shelter help make Smedley an extremely attractive property.”

Biodiversity has been further enhanced through the protection of freshwater ecosystems.

“Smedley has banned commercial eeling, many of the property’s waterways are protected and a wetland enhancement project is underway.”

Soils are carefully managed to reduce the risk of erosion, and the station operates a nutrient budget that, judges said, “is informed by excellent record keeping”.

Judges also noted the station’s 180ha of production forestry, which is maintained to a high standard by cadets.

Horses have always been a key part of life on Smedley Station and cadets learn how to break in and train station hacks.

Along with the Supreme award, Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm also won the Ballance Nutrient Management Award, Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award and Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award.

A BFEA field day will be held on Smedley Station on Wednesday March 27.

Award winners in the 2013 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Supreme award, Ballance Nutrient Management Award, Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award: Terry and Judy Walters, Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm.

East Coast Farming For The Future Award (sponsored by the Gisborne District Council and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council), Massey University Discovery Award: Graeme Williams and Derry Stovell, Mangaroa Station, Tokomaru Bay, Gisborne.

WaterForce Integrated Management Award: Hylton and Wendy McDermott, Kotare Farm, Maraetotara, Hawke’s Bay.

LIC Dairy Encouragement Award: Donald and Karen Fraser, Rawhiti Dairies, Takapau, Hawke’s Bay.

PGG Wrightson Land & Life Award: William and Nancie Barclay, Tahora Station, Wharekopae, Gisborne.

Meridian Energy Excellence Award: David and Ngaire Bryant and Murray and Katrina Hinton, Longview, Kereru, Hawke’s Bay.

For more information on the 2013 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact BFEA East Coast regional coordinator Kate Taylor, ph (06) 8558 599, 027 603 2200, or email eastcoast@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.