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2009 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

24 April 2009

2009 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Pukeokahu farmers Andy and Claire Law are the Supreme winners of the 2009 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards. They received their award at a ceremony on April 24.Andy and Claire, who farm 230ha ‘Glenelg Farm’, east of Taihape, impressed the judges with their passion and “overall enthusiasm for farming, the farming community and the rural way of life”.

Glenelg is part of a larger farming business run with Andy’s brother, Rob. This partnership farms 8000 stock units (including sheep, cattle, deer and goats) and agroforestry on a total of 566ha. The brothers also operate a Cross Slot No-Till contracting business. Judges noted the Law’s wide mix of livestock enterprises, strong stock performance and their “excellent understanding and knowledge of soils and nutrients, their relationship with livestock systems and their effects on waterways”. 

At an altitude of 600m above sea level, Glenelg Farm is often subject to snowfalls in winter. Some areas of the hill country farm are also prone to erosion, but the property has been mapped out with a planting plan to counter this. 

A feed pad has also been installed. Breeding cows – which are the heaviest stock wintered – are put onto the pad to prevent soil damage once rainfall reaches the “trigger point” of 25mm in a day.
Trees play a major role on Glenelg. A 25ha area of mature native bush has been placed under a QEII covenant. Andy and Claire take a long-term view of the trees they are planting, with an area planted almost every year on ground deemed unsuitable for pastoral farming.

Andy does as much of the silviculture work as he can and has learnt to stick broadly to cypress and pines on the colder southerly faces and ash, eucalypts and cedars on the north-facing land. 

Judges commented on the Law’s excellent use of the land resource and the integration of trees and no-till cropping and pasture to create high stock performance that includes 145% lambing.Andy and Rob were pioneers of no-till cropping and pasture renovation in the region and their partnership allows considerable flexibility and lifestyle. Stock can be shifted between properties when necessary and tractor driving is shared on a 2-3 day rotation when in season. 

Judges also noted that Andy and Claire’s community involvement has been “significant and wide ranging”, including school, church, community and farm groups. A field day will be held on Glenelg Farm in May.

Other category award winners in the 2009 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards are:

Ballance Nutrient Management Award: Keith and Kim Riley, Woodville

LIC Dairy Farm Award: Keith and Kim Riley, Woodville

Silver Fern Farms Livestock Award: David, Maureen and Cameron Smith, Marton

Hill Laboratories Harvest Award: Mackintosh Group Ltd, Wanganui

PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award: Stewart Dairylands Ltd, Palmerston North

Gallagher Innovation Award: David, Maureen and Cameron Smith, Marton

NZ Farm Environment Award Trust Habitat Improvement Award: Dan Steele, Retaruke

Horizons Regional Council Award (for the integration of trees on farms): John and Diana Dermer, Feilding