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Wairarapa Sharemilkers Lap Up Farm Environment Awards Experience

1 January 2010

Wairarapa Sharemilkers Lap Up Farm Environment Awards Experience

The good news coming out of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards helps to dispel some of the negative perceptions urban people have about dairy farming, says Wairarapa sharemilker Bryce Baron.

"The awards are a good showcase for the dairy industry and farming in general because they show that most farmers are doing their very best to do a good job when it comes to environmental sustainability," he says.

Bryce and wife Kylie sharemilk 480 cows on 165ha just west of Carterton. They are now in their 7th season on the farm which is owned by Kylie's grandmother Patricia Smith. The couple started out as lower-order sharemilkers but are now on a 50:50 contract, achieving annual production of around 420kgMS/cow.

Bryce says the farm, which is situated under the Tararua Ranges, has a number of waterways and can get very wet. It is also prone to dry quickly in summer.

With the help of the owner, he and Kylie have done a lot of environmental work in recent years. All waterways are fenced and the Barons have built a number of new bridges. Kahikatea trees have been protected and a feed pad has been constructed to take the pressure off pastures and soils during wet periods. Fertiliser and effluent is managed according to the recommendations of a carefully considered nutrient management plan.

The farm is a good example of a dairy operation striving to achieve a high level of sustainability.

Bryce and Kylie are justifiably proud of their efforts and they entered the 2010 Greater Wellington/Wairarapa Ballance Farm Environment Awards because they wanted to find out "where our business stood in terms of sustainability".

They were thrilled to win two category awards - the LIC Dairy Farm Award and the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award.

Bryce says participating in the awards was well worthwhile.

"The judging process was conducted in a relaxing manner but it was very interesting and we got a lot of information and some great feedback out of the judges. We also got a lot out of seeing what other entrants were up to. Some of the great things other farmers were doing really blew us away."

The Barons are now enthusiastic supporters of the awards and Bryce says they will definitely be entering again in future.

"I think it's a great experience for any farmer and it's very good for the dairy industry."

Entries for the 2011 Greater Wellington/Wairarapa Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on September 6, 2010. Information on the awards can be obtained by emailing info@bfea.org.nz, and an entry form can be obtained from www.bfea.org.nz or participating regional councils.

For more information on the Greater Wellington/Wairarapa awards, contact BFEA regional coordinator Angeline Colquhoun, phone (06) 378 8008 / 0275263513 or emailwellington@bfea.org.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.