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Innovative high-country farmers Dan and Mandy Shand are the Supreme winners of the 2012 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards

30 March 2012

Innovative high-country farmers Dan and Mandy Shand are the Supreme winners of the 2012 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Their win was announced at a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 29, where the Shands also collected two category awards - the Environment Canterbury Habitat Award and the Massey University Discovery Award.

BFEA judges described the Shands as “an innovative couple making a tough high-country farm profitable through intelligent, balanced diversification”.

The Shands farm sheep and beef on 6800ha, west of Culverden, while also running a beekeeping business and farm tourism venture.

Island Hills Station runs about 3200 stock units on 1800ha of freehold land and 5000ha of pastoral lease. Rising from 400 to 1700metres above sea level and traversed by many rivers, the station’s limited carrying capacity means it is marginally economic as a livestock operation.

So Dan and Mandy, who took over from Dan’s parents Ed and Jan, diversified into other ventures, including honey production and tourism.

Their beekeeping business has 350 hives, most of which are based on the station, and produces top quality manuka honey. Their farm-based tourism operation capitalises on the Hurunui High Country Track which runs through the station.

BFEA judges said this innovative diversification had helped the farm to achieve financial sustainability. The three separate ventures, all based on the farm, spread risk “with each component supporting the other”.

The station runs a small breeding flock and a breeding herd. Steers are sold at three-years of age, with some calves sold store in autumn. Most lambs are also sold store.

Judges said the station was achieving good stock performance given the difficult terrain, limited subdivision and lack of cropping contour.

They noted the “recognition and intelligent management of fragile soils”, the deliberate lack of grazing pressure on valuable native areas and the excellent use of capital invested in difficult land.

Two previous generations of the Shand family have also provided good stewardship on the station. In 1991 Dan’s parents placed 600ha of native bush into QEII covenant and this protected a variety of trees including Rata and red, black and silver beech.

Judges praised the Shand’s enthusiasm and passion for their business.

They said Dan and Mandy, who have two young children, are “constantly up-skilling and trialling new ways of doing things”.

A field day will be held on Island Hills Station, with the date to be advised.

Award-Winners in the 2012 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards were;
Supreme Award, Environment Canterbury Habitat Award and Massey University Discovery Award: Dan and Mandy Shand, Island Hills Station
Environment Canterbury Water Efficiency Award and LIC Dairy Farm Award: Ben and Shannon Johnson, Bodiam Dairies Ltd
WaterForce Integrated Management Award and Ballance Agri-Nutrients: Nutrient Management Award: John Evans, Tregynon
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award: Mt Arrowsmith Station
PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award: Castle Hill Station
Hill Laboratories Harvest Award: Tony and Yolande Redmond, Waverlea Partnership

For more information on the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust or the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, phone 07 834 0400, or email david.natzke@nzfeatrust.org.nz.