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Canterbury Couple Inspired By Ballance Farm Environment Awards

26 August 2011

Canterbury Couple Inspired By Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Annavale Station managers Brian and Linda Groome were thrilled to win a string of awards in their first time in the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. But they aren’t putting their feet up just yet.

“If anything”, says Brian, “it’s actually encouraged us to do better in future”.

The Groomes have managed the 2800ha hill-country property, west of Springfield, since it was bought by two investors in 2001.
Brian says he and Lin love Annavale and run it as if it was their own.

So when their fertiliser representative suggested they enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they saw a good opportunity to get some independent and expert feedback on how the station was performing.

“I thought, I’m not doing anything I’m ashamed of,” says Brian.
“If someone says I’m doing something wrong, I would ask them what can I do to improve?”

Lin says the judging process was informative and pleasant.
“The judges quickly put us at ease - so much so, we now look on them as our friends.”

At the 2011 BFEA awards evening, Annavale was awarded the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award, the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Habitat Improvement Award and the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award.

The recognition was rewarding for both the Groomes and Annavale’s owners.

Brian says he was especially pleased to win the Livestock Award.
“Livestock is our livelihood. If you look after your livestock, everything else falls into place.”

Annavale runs 8000 stock units, including about 330 Angus breeding cows and 4100 Wairere Romney ewes. “Recording is a massive tool for us. If you don’t know there is a problem, you cannot fix it.”

About 800ha of the station’s steeper, unproductive land has been ‘retired’ and is regenerating into native species. The Groomes and the station’s owners are also fencing off waterways to improve water quality.

“Our philosophy is to do a little bit for nature each year.”
The Groomes enjoyed being involved in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“Lin and I got a huge amount out of it. While we found out that we weren’t doing too badly, there is always room for improvement,” says Brian.

“Getting the right balance between production and sustainability is still a goal for us. And we have to look after the water and make sure that it is in pristine condition when it reaches the rivers and lakes.”

Brian says he and Lin would like to re-enter the Farm Environment Awards in future.

“We learnt a lot this time around and we’ve got plans we want to put in place over the next couple of years. Then we will give the competition another go.”

He would certainly encourage other farmers to enter the 2012 awards.

“Don’t be afraid to give it a go. It’s a great experience and you will learn much from it.”

Entries for the 2012 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on September 1. For more information on the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Nicola Hunt, Regional Co-ordinator, ph (03) 314 9586 or email Nicola.Hunt@ecan.govt.nz.

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 david.natzke@nzfeatrust.org.nz.