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Model Dairy Operation Wins Top Title in Ballance Farm Environment Awards

21 March 2011

Model Dairy Operation Wins Top Title in Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Eketahuna Dairy Farmers Rickie Morrison And Sharleen Hutching Are The Supreme Winners Of The 2011 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a ceremony on March 18 the couple also picked up the LIC Dairy Farm Award, the Ballance Nutrient Management Award and the Hills Laboratories Harvest Award.

Rick and Shar run a 201-cow operation on an 83ha (70ha effective) dairy unit and a 26ha runoff, south of Eketahuna.

They have owned the farm (their first) for just three years and Ballance Farm Environment Award (BFEA) judges praised the couple for their drive, vision and management.

“In terms of tidiness and presentation, this farm is a stand-out, a prime example of a model dairy farm which could be actively displayed to an international audience.”

While the operation achieved excellent production of 70,400kg Milksolids last season, Rick and Shar are careful to maintain a comfortable stocking rate to ensure cows are not pushed too hard and the land is protected.

Farm waterway and nutrient management is a major consideration on their flat to rolling farm which sits in a challenging high-rainfall area.

The couple makes extensive use of a covered feed pad to protect pastures from potential damage in adverse weather – even if this means having to get up in the middle of the night to shift cows onto the pad.

Over the last three years they have put considerable effort into the development of their new farm, improving subdivision, upgrading stock water and effluent disposal systems, eliminating weeds and regrassing large areas.

They have also retired wetland areas and fenced drains, planted trees for shade and shelter and protected pockets of native bush.
BFEA judges described this development as “quite outstanding”.

“Overall, the judges felt that this farm created a significant impact in terms of presentation, efficient use of resources, and in particular as a great example of environmentally sustainable New Zealand farming practices.”

Judges also noted the couple’s clearly set farm and financial goals, their excellent management of effluent to minimise effects on waterways and their clear focus on maintaining quality grasses for the efficient conversion of pasture to milk.

Rick has been a dairy farmer almost all his working life and his sharemilking career started on his parents’ farm. When that farm was sold, he and Shar, a trained hairdresser, stayed on as 50:50 sharemilkers for the new owner.

They later moved onto a larger sharemilking job before buying their current farm.

They have two daughters, Ashley, 7, and Maia, 4.

A BFEA field day will be held on their award-winning farm, with the date to be notified.

Other winners in the 2011 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award; John, Toos, Edmund, Julius and Guido Cousins.

PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award; Richard and Rachel Steele.

Massey University Discovery Award; Richard and Rachel Steele.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Habitat Improvement Award; Brendan and Philippa Kavanagh.

Horizons Regional Council Award (for the integration of trees); John, Toos, Edmund, Julius and Guido Cousins.

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.