28 September 2011
The Snowdon family entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards to find out how their Rerewhakaaitu dairy farming operation stood up in terms of sustainability.
They were pleased they did.
“We found it to be a very positive and inspiring experience,” says Kerry Snowdon, who runs 155ha (effective) ‘Y Wory’ Farm with the help of wife Lea and their son and farm manager, Brad.
The ‘Y Wory’ name was coined when the Snowdons first bought the farm.
“We had a lot of debt,” says Kerry “but you just have to get on with life and you can’t worry about it.”
Improving the long-term sustainability of the farm has been a key focus for the Snowdons in recent years, especially with the district suffering consecutive seasons of drought.
Two years ago the family was asked to enter the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards by friends who had also been involved in the competition.
Kerry says they were initially reluctant “to stick our heads up”.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect,” he says.
But the opportunity to benchmark the farm proved a motivating factor.
“Every farm is different, so until you become involved in something like this it’s really hard to get a gauge on just how sustainable your farming business is.”
Kerry says the family’s concerns about being judged were quickly dispelled.
“The judges were great. It was more like a discussion group than an interview. We really enjoyed showing the judges the farm and exchanging ideas with them.”
He says feedback from the judges was positive and reassuring.
“It was great to find out that we were on the right track, and that has motivated us to do even more.”
The Snowdons won the Ballance Nutrient Management Award and received a certificate “for being the best rookies” in the 2010 competition. They entered again in 2011, winning the LIC Dairy Farm Award.
“That was a real buzz,” says Kerry.
“We weren’t gunning for any prizes. We just wanted to support the competition and learn as much as we could.”
Kerry says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards are great for the dairy industry because they highlight the positive things many farmers are doing to protect the environment.
He says other farmers should not be afraid to “give the awards a crack”.
“The benefits are definitely there. It’s a great opportunity to mix with like-minded farmers, pick up information and swap ideas.”
Entries for the 2012 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on October 14, 2011.
For more information on entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Bay of Plenty BFEA Regional Coordinator Kirsten Winter, phone (07) 573 5238, (0275) 721 244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust or the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, or email email@example.com.