1 January 2010
Farmers shouldn’t let a difficult season discourage them from entering the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says Hillend farmer Neville Leslie.
He believes there are a lot of farmers around the region who would benefit from being involved in the awards, even though many have been badly affected by the challenging climatic conditions in early spring.
“The judges will certainly be taking the tough season into account when they are out visiting farms.”
Neville and wife Bernadette first entered the awards this year and were thrilled to pick up two category awards – the Ballance Nutrient Management Award and the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.
Neville says they were ‘rapt” with their awards experience and he and Bernadette are now encouraging other farmers to enter the 2011 competition.
“Some people think you have to be a greenie to enter, but the awards are actually about being sustainable from both an environmental and a business point of view,” he says.
“To me that comes down to good farming and a desire to leave the land in a better state than when you first started farming it.”
The Leslies bought their 425ha (360ha effective) sheep and beef farm, north of Balclutha, ten years ago and have worked hard to improve it by planting trees for stock shelter and income, increasing drainage and lifting soil fertility.
Neville says they’ve planted about 60ha of commercial plantation and 3-4km of shelterbelts using a range of different tree species.
Capital fertiliser has been applied to double Olsen P levels to an average of 20, 3-4km of drainage has been installed and a wintering pad has been constructed for the beef cow herd.
Ballance Farm Environment Award judges were certainly impressed with the effort the Leslies had put into developing ‘Longridge’.
Neville says they entered the competition because they wanted to benchmark their South Otago farm against other properties and “make sure we were moving forward”.
While they were prepared for some tough scrutiny from the judging panel, he says the judging process was not as daunting as first anticipated.
“The judges were great. They pointed out some things that we could improve on in future, but the feedback was actually very positive and it was reassuring to know that we were on the right track.”
He says the competition is a great learning experience and he would strongly recommend it to other farmers.
“The judges aren’t out to shoot you down. They only want to help. So if you think your farm is in reasonable condition, enter it in the awards and find out as much as you can.”
He believes the competition is good for farmers and good for New Zealand agriculture in general.
“I can’t get over what a great event it is to be involved with. Its good to see some of our top agricultural companies supporting it.”
Entries for the 2011 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on November 26, 2010. For more information or an entry form, visit www.bfea.org.nz or contact Beatrice Lee, BFEA Otago regional coordinator, phone (03) 473 9566, 027 2088 305 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.