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Northland Farmers Enjoy Supportive Atmosphere of Environment Awards

1 January 2009

Northland Farmers Enjoy Supportive Atmosphere of Environment Awards

It might have taken some arm-twisting to get George and Peggy Morrison into the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, but the Northland couple are glad they gave it a go.

The Morrisons, who farm bull beef on 440ha (380ha effective) north east of Kaitaia, won a merit award in the 2009 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

In recent years they have devoted time and energy to fencing off wetland areas on the farm, including about 8km of river boundaries.

George and his father, Jim, started developing the reverted farm about 30 years ago and George and Peggy have continued this work over the last 20 years.

Peggy says the focus on improving environmental sustainability started back in the early 1990s when some of the farm's less productive areas were retired and planted in pines.

About 100 Pohutukawa were also planted around the same time, although these trees have been slow to establish due to intense competition from Kikuyu.

Situated near the southern edge of Rangaunu Harbour, the low-lying farm is subject to tidal flow and its alluvial soils can become waterlogged.

Peggy says the Ballance Farm Environment Award judges were impressed by George's innovative floodgate system which is designed to reduce tidal flow and stop salt water covering the paddocks while still allowing fish movement.

"We actually enjoyed the judging process and the judges’ feedback was very positive. They also came up with some good suggestions on the type of native species we should plant on the farm."

She says she found the whole atmosphere of the competition to be quite social "and everyone was very supportive of what we were trying to do".

She recommends other farmers enter the competition.

"The judges have a wealth of knowledge from their own experiences, and you can gain plenty of ideas from them."

On a broader level, she says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards are also a good way for farmers to show urban people some of the positive things that are happening on the farm.

"The awards are a great concept. A lot of work goes into organising this competition and I think it's important that farmers support it."

Entries for the 2010 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened on September 1 and close on December 7, 2009. For more information or an entry form, contact BFEA regional coordinator Gayle Farrell, phone (09)433 1576, email northland@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