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Environment Awards Put Tihoi Farmers On Right Track

1 January 2009

Environment Awards Put Tihoi Farmers On Right Track

Competing in the 2008 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped reassure Peter and Marilyn Kidd they were on the right track as far as environmental sustainability goes.

The Tihoi dairy farmers picked up two category awards that year - the Ballance Nutrient Management Award and the Environment Waikato Water Protection Award.

The couple, who run an 800- cow dairy operation on a total of 391ha between Mangakino and Taupo, first entered the Awards in 2000.

"We wanted to see where we were at in the eyes of the judges and see if we were on the right track," says Peter.

The judges provided valuable feedback on the property and encouraged the Kidds to continue their planting and waterway protection work. Peter says they have also expanded their effluent irrigation system to cover 90ha of the farm. While this came with a hefty capital cost, the nutrients provided in the effluent have helped reduce overall fertiliser expenses.

Effluent management is a major issue for dairy farmers and the industry has been much maligned for its performance in this area.

Peter says he believes this is one reason dairy farmers may have been reluctant to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in the past. "They don't want to stick their heads up because they are worried they might get them knocked off."

But this attitude is changing and the strong performance of dairy farmers in the 2009 Ballance Farm Environment Awards - with five out of eight Supreme winners being dairy operations - has helped drive this turnaround.

Peter says he would certainly encourage other dairy farmers to enter the 2010 competition.

"Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Many dairy farmers have a good story to tell and the industry needs good news."

He says the biggest benefit of entering the Awards is the knowledge gained through the judging process. It challenges farmers to take a good hard look at their operations. "You learn a lot and get some great ideas out of it."

He says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards also play an important role in highlighting some of the innovative solutions farmers are developing to address environmental issues.

His view is that farmers should be encouraged to find their own answers to these problems, rather than being subjected to heavy handed and unrealistic environmental regulations.

"This competition is important because it helps capture hearts and minds in terms of what a good farmer should do."

Entries for the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on October 1 and close on November 16, 2009.

For more information or an entry form, visit www.bfea.org.nz or contact Gerry Glover, Waikato BFEA coordinator, phone (07) 829 8815 or email waikato@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