7 September 2012
An efficient irrigation system drives crop production on John Evan’s award-winning Canterbury farm.
A leading arable farmer in the region, John runs an intensive 245ha (effective) property in the Dorie district.
‘Tregynon Farm’ finishes stock and grows a range of crops, specialising in seed production.
John says water is the life-blood of the farm, and his ability to manage water efficiently was recognised when he won the WaterForce Integrated Management Award in the 2012 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).
The WaterForce Award recognises farmers who have developed and implemented integrated water management systems and processes for water used within their land-based farming system. The award takes into account the design of systems and the efficiency of monitoring water usage, water saved and cost-effectiveness.
BFEA judges were impressed with Tregynon’s well-planned irrigation infrastructure that includes a switching system that reduces pressure on the well water supply by ‘telling’ the second irrigator to start when the first one has finished its run.
John says accurate monitoring is crucial for efficient water management. He uses a Christchurch-based company for monitoring soil moisture content and water use on the farm.
Crops are also planned so they don’t all need watering at once.
“And if things get dry, we stop irrigating pasture and focus on the high-value crops.”
John recently completed construction of a 2ha dam which is capable of holding about a week’s supply of water “that is utilised at the time of greatest need”.
Tregynon is run with the help of one fulltime labour unit and a student over summer. John is also assisted by his partner, Kai Tegels, and his 87-year-old father, Jack.
As well as the WaterForce Award, Tregynon also won the Ballance Nutrient Management Award. It was John’s first time in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
While he was happy to win these awards, his main reason for entering the competition was to see if he was on the right track as far as sustainability goes.
“It was all about the actual journey for me. It wasn’t about the prizes, but it was a real honour to be judged by people I have looked up to in my farming career and be deemed by them as worthy of an award.”
John says he has always tried to run a sustainable system. While money is a factor, lifestyle and environmental considerations are equally as important.
“I want to farm the best I can with the resources I’ve got. If you look after your resources, more often than not, the profitability will follow.”
What he liked about the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was that the judges clearly understood this approach.
He says he really enjoyed the judging process.
“It was a very good experience and I’d definitely encourage other farmers to enter because it is well worthwhile and you can learn so much. I also think it’s important that farmers stand up and be counted. We need good farming stories to counteract the bad publicity and show urban people and the wider rural community that farmers are doing their best when it comes to sustainability.”
Entries for the 2013 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards are now open and entry forms can be downloaded from the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website at www.nzfeatrust.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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
or visit web www.bfea.org.nz