26 September 2011
Nigel Kavanaugh, David and Hayley Vaughan
After a false start the previous year, Dave and Hayley Vaughan’s involvement in the 2011 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards proved to be a happy and rewarding experience.
The Vaughans, who manage Landcorp’s Hindon Farm, first entered the annual competition in 2010 but had to withdraw at the last moment because their daughter Rebecca was born on judging day.
They entered again in 2011, winning the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Nutrient Management Award.
It was welcome recognition for the Vaughans and for Landcorp.
Dave and Hayley have managed Hindon Farm, a 1226ha sheep, beef and deer property situated between Middlemarch and Mosgiel, for five years.
Climatic conditions in the region can range from one extreme to the other – from snow to drought – so the Vaughans have focused heavily on planting shelterbelts to reduce the farm’s exposure to the elements.
An annual programme for the control and eradication of gorse in gullies is also in place, with unproductive areas being fenced and planted out in trees for shelter and ETS potential.
Significant areas of land have been developed out of gorse and broom, and Hindon Farm has achieved good production gains in recent years.
Hayley Vaughan says she and Dave have always thought the Farm Environment Awards were a good idea “because they showcase the best farming practices.”
So, encouraged by their fertiliser representative, they decided to enter the 2010 competition. But then Hayley went into labour on judging day and they had to postpone their entry until the next year.
In contrast, judging day in 2011 was relaxed and enjoyable.
“It wasn’t as gruelling as we initially thought. After the farm tour we had a chat around the table, so it was more of a discussion than an interview.”
She says each of the judges came from a different background, so they were able to offer expert advice on a wide range of topics.
“It certainly helped us to fill in a few gaps in our knowledge.”
Hayley says she and Dave found that one of the key benefits of being involved in the competition was that it encouraged them to examine all aspects of their farming system.
“You don’t have to be doing anything amazing to enter. But it makes you think about what you are doing and what you could do differently in future.”
Meeting other like-minded farmers at the awards night was enjoyable and inspiring and Hayley and Dave would like to re-enter the competition again sometime in the future.
“It was a very good exercise. We really enjoyed it.”
Entries for the 2012 Otago Ballance Farm environment Awards open on September 30, 2011.
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.