21 September 2011
“Farming in a sustainable manner is just good business,” says farmer and conservationist Dan Steele.
By good, he means good for the individual farmer, good for the farming industry in general and good for the whole country.
Dan and his business partner, Luk Chin, own a 2100ha sheep and beef farm and eco-tourism business on the northern end of Whanganui National Park, an hour west of Mount Ruapehu. The farm is home to an extensive conservation project and the Blue Duck Lodge – an accommodation and events facility named after the rare Blue Duck which inhabits the conservation park.
Dan is passionate about conservation, tourism and farming.
“Our business is about 50% farming and 50% eco-tourism. It’s a real study in how conservation and business can be tied together.”
He believes New Zealand should lead the world in conservation.
“Tourism and farming both rely on our clean, green image, but if we could really achieve this then people would want to visit our country forever.”
Dan’s a big fan of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because they recognise farmers who are farming in an environmentally-friendly manner.
“Generations of New Zealand farmers have been programmed to increase production each year and this has often come at the expense of the environment,” he says.
“It’s almost ingrained. But the key to changing this is education, and I think the Ballance Farm Environment Awards play a key role in this because they show that conservation and profitable farming can go hand in hand.”
Dan entered the competition three years in a row, making the finals each year and also picking up two Habitat Improvement Awards and an Innovation Award.
“For me, the awards are about networking with like-minded people and sharing ideas. The judges are very good at what they do and I’ve made some good friends out of being involved with the competition. I’ve even got staff out of it.”
The competition is open to any farming or horticultural operation, and Dan says entrants will learn a lot from being involved.
“You’ve got nothing to lose by entering, and New Zealand has everything to gain.”
Entries for the 2012 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on October 8, 2011.
For more information or an entry form, contact Angela Rainham, BFEA regional coordinator, ph 06 355 2015/021 246 0727 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.