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Top Example of Hill Country Farming Collects Supreme Title in 2012 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

19 March 2012

Top Example of Hill Country Farming Collects Supreme Title in 2012 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Left to right: Jim Inglis (the farm business manager from Landcorp), Scott Lasenby (shepherd), Donna and Paul Edwards (managers)

Landcorp’s Rangedale Station is the winner of the 2012 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The win was announced at a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 16. As well as the Supreme title, Rangedale also picked up the Dalrymple Habitat Award and the Horizons Regional Council Award (for the integration of trees).

Managed by Paul and Donna Edwards, Rangedale is a 1578ha (1382ha effective) sheep and beef property near Pahiatua. Bought by Landcorp Farming Ltd eleven years ago, the farm carries around 12,000 stock units and its key role is to supply store stock to Landcorp finishing units in the Wairarapa and Manawatu.

BFEA judges described Rangedale as “an excellent example of how a large scale hill country farm can be run in conjunction with the environment”.

Stock carried on the Wairarapa farm last year included 6300 Romney ewes, 2100 ewe lambs, 300 yearling steers and 450 R2 steers.

Judges said stock condition is excellent and the station keeps comprehensive records of stock production, often on a paddock by paddock basis.

Climatic conditions in the district are highly variable and some areas of Rangedale, which rises from 300 to 700metres above sea level, are very exposed. However, while high wind, rain and snow are a regular feature in winter, the area is relatively summer-safe.

BFEA judges said correct land use is a real focus for the station. Five ‘farm performance areas’ have been mapped and these areas are farmed according to their soils and productive potential.

Two quite different soil types have been identified and these soils are carefully managed to minimise any detrimental effects. Cattle are wintered on the limestone soils to avoid pugging the pastures, and sheep are wintered predominantly on the papa-based country.

About 50ha of native bush on Rangedale is under QEII covenant, and the station plans to place more land into QEII in future. It also plans to retire a further 102ha of land this year. Land suitable for pine trees will be planted and the balance will be left to regenerate naturally.

Judges said the work done with QEII on the native bush sections is excellent.

They also noted the extensive use of poplar planting on erosion-prone slopes. This work has been done in conjunction with the Horizons Regional Council in accordance with the farm’s Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) whole farm plan.

Judges said staff showed an excellent understanding of the soils on the farm. Soil testing is undertaken on a regular basis and fertiliser applied accordingly.

A key focus of the farm is running an efficient low-cost system.
“The record keeping and planning is of a very high standard and is done alongside Horizons Regional Council, QEII Trust and Landcorp’s own specialists.”

The overall presentation of the farm was described as “impressive”, with buildings, tracks, yards and fences in good condition and well maintained.

Staff training and health and safety are high priorities in the operation, and Rangedale staff members are involved in a wide range of community activities.

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

Winners in the 2012 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

• Supreme winner, Dalrymple Habitat Award, Horizons Regional Council Award (for the integration of trees): Rangedale Station, Landcorp Farming Ltd. 
• Ballance Agri-Nutrient: Nutrient Management Award and Margaret Matthews Trophy for Commitment to Sustainability: Jim and Lynette Galloway, Jala Enterprises Ltd. 
• Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award:Morrison Farming Limited. 
• LIC Dairy Farm Award: Alistair and Margo Robertson, FarmZeal Ltd. 
• Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Massey University Discovery Award and Waterforce Integrated Management Award: Grant and Diana Bird, Fairview Farm.
 
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.