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Wise Nutrient Use Rewarded In Ballance Farm Environment Awards

20 August 2012

Wise Nutrient Use Rewarded In Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Former fertiliser consultant Jim Galloway takes a scientific approach to the application of nutrients on his Nireaha dairy farm, west of Eketahuna.

Jim and his wife Lynette bought the farm in 2006 and are milking about 170 cows this season on a milking platform of 70ha (effective). The Galloways also own a nearby run-off, supplementing milk income by rearing extra dairy replacements and farming carryover cows.

Jim and Lynette are both Massey University graduates and Jim worked as a fertiliser consultant for nine years before going farming. This experience in the fertiliser industry is valuable when deciding the farm’s fertiliser policy.

“I suppose I look at fertiliser from a scientific point of view, and I’m always questioning if and why we need a certain nutrient input.”

Jim says measuring is a crucial part of the nutrient budgeting process. Soil nutrient status is carefully monitored and the Galloways also test the nutrient value of their dairy effluent, which is applied to about 20% of the farm.

Their in-depth knowledge of nutrient management impressed the judges of the 2012 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), who awarded them the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Nutrient Management Award.

The Galloways were happy to receive this award which focuses on “the wise use of nutrients for productivity while demonstrating excellent care for the environment”. They also collected the Margaret Matthews Cup for Commitment to Sustainability.

With the help of their sons, Lynette says they have achieved a lot in the six years they have been on the farm. The protection of the Mangaroa Stream, which runs through the farm, is a prime example.

Fed by water coming off the Tararua Ranges this stream can become “a raging monster at times”, often claiming land through river bank erosion.

But since the Galloways fenced and planted this stream, the erosion risk has reduced and water quality has increased. They have also planted other areas of the farm with shelter trees.

With assistance from Horizons Regional Council and the Tararua District Council, the Galloways have encouraged other farmers to fence and plant the river.

Lynette says they are happy with what they have achieved. She says entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a good opportunity for them to show this to others.

“We’ve done a lot of work on the farm and we are very proud of that,” she says.

“So we thought we would enter the Awards because we had nothing to lose and a lot to gain.”

Jim agrees. He says the process of entering the competition made them sit down and reflect on what they’d done over the years and what they wanted the business to achieve next.

“I think being involved in a competition like this is a great motivator because it makes you put your plans into action.”

Entries for the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards are now open. Jim says any farmer who wants to learn more about improving sustainability should enter the awards, even if they are only in the early stages of the process.

He says supporting the competition is important because it produces positive stories for the dairy industry.

BFEA entry forms can be downloaded from the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website 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, emaildavid.natzke@nzfeatrust.org.nz.