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Diverse Farming Enterprise Earns Top Environmental Award

1 January 2010

Diverse Farming Enterprise Earns Top Environmental Award

Pikowai farmers Bruce and Tessa Calder are the Supreme Winners of the 2010 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Calders and their manager Tama Murray farm 450ha of medium hill country between Te Puke and Whakatane.

Their 390ha effective (includes 40ha leased) farming operation, Pikowai Farms, runs numerous enterprises. As well as finishing lambs, beef cattle and deer, the business also sells and leases dairy bulls, winters dairy cows, sells supplement and grows trees for commercial production.

The Ballance Farm Environment Award judging panel described the strengths of the people involved in the operation and the management of the challenging property as "a joy to behold".

Bruce, who was raised on a family farm in Hawkes Bay, drew the original 270ha ballot block in 1975. He and Tessa, who have two adult sons, have expanded the operation and developed it into a highly profitable farming enterprise that "successfully utilises the resources and niche markets to the benefit of the business".

The BFEA judging panel said progressive thinking and strategic changes over the years have seen the farming enterprise transform from a traditional sheep and beef unit to a diversified cashflow-generating enterprise with returns that rival dairying.

This has been done "hand in glove" with significant conservation and environmental work.

Over the years the Calders have fenced off native bush, gullies, streams and waterways. Last year they planted 3000 native trees as part of a two-year stream and wetland protection programme. Poplars have been planted for shade and erosion control and 109ha have been planted in radiata pine.

Judges noted the excellent relationship the Calders shared with their manager of ten years, "and the wise use of consultants and research that keeps them up to date with new technology and allows them to critically assess decisions".

The Calders are always looking for new opportunities - both on farm and off - and are passionate farmers who enjoy sharing their farm with others.

They are heavily involved in their local community and are particularly well-known for their participation in equine sports. Bruce is past master of the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua Hunt Club and he and Tessa host regular hunts on their property. They also compete in showjumping and dressage competitions.

As well as the Supreme award the Calders also won the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust Livestock Award.

They previously won the Ballance Nutrient Management Award in the 2006 BoP Ballance Farm Environment Awards and the Livestock Farm Award in 2009.

The results of the 2010 BoP Ballance Farm Environment Awards were announced at a special ceremony on February 23.

Other winners in the 2010 Awards were:

• Kerry, Lea and Brad Snowdon - Ballance Nutrient Management Award

• Jens and Min Wulff - LIC Dairy Farm Award

• Darren and Tracey Chinnery - Hill Laboratories Harvest Award and Zespri™ Kiwifruit Orchard Award

• Shirley and Ray Hayward - PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award

• David and Clare Beuth - Massey University Discovery Award

• Rick and Jane Burke, Derry and Jenny Seddon - Environment Bay of Plenty Environmental Award

• Barry and Maggie Waite, Carol Burt - Environment Bay of Plenty Environmental Award

A field day will be held on Pikowai Farms on March 30.

For more information on the 2010 BoP Ballance Farm Environment Awards and upcoming field day, contact Kirsten Winter, Bay of Plenty Regional Coordinator, phone (07) 573 5238 or emailbop@bfea.org.nz 

For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, emaildavid.natzke@nzfeatrust.org.nz or visit www.bfea.org.nz