1 January 2009
David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust
With entries for the 2010 Ballance Farm Environment Awards set to open, organisers are again encouraging farmers to participate in the annual competition.
"The awards continue to grow in popularity and judging by the interest shown by the many people who attended the 2009 Supreme Winner field days around the country, we should have an excellent number of entries for 2010," says New Zealand Farm Environment Award (NZFEA) Trust General Manager David Natzke.
Operating in eight regions, the annual contest promotes sustainable land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a manner that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
Entries for the Bay of Plenty, Horizons, Canterbury and Northland regions open on 1 September. Entries for Wellington open on 7 September, and the Otago, Southland and Waikato regions open on 1 October.
A feature of the 2009 awards was the high number of dairy farm entries, with a record number of dairy farmers going on to win Supreme titles.
"It was great to see dairy farmers and the dairy industry supporting the awards so enthusiastically," says Mr Natzke.
He says past entrants have described their participation in the awards as a highly rewarding experience, "and it's humbling to see these people come through the awards process to become leaders in their community and great ambassadors for environmental sustainability".
This year a range of entries are expected across all farm types. A successful initiative launched last year means entrants can be nominated by other farmers or agribusiness people. "In the past we've found that sometimes people hesitate to nominate themselves. Under this new system you can still self-nominate, but it also means anyone can nominate someone they feel would make a worthy entrant."
Mr Natzke says another reason people might hesitate to enter the competition is that they are worried their farm may not be looking its best at judging time.
"Extreme climatic conditions are part of farming, and the judges are always going to look past the short term impacts of drought or flooding to get a real picture of how sustainable an operation is. So people shouldn't be put off if the farming operation isn't picture perfect.
He says most people enter because they want feedback on how their farming operation stacks up in terms of environmental sustainability. Entrants also seek ideas from competition judges and other participants on how to improve the sustainability of their businesses.
Supreme winners from each region will be honoured at a National Showcase event next year. They will also be eligible to apply for the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust and MAF Study Scholarship.
Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is simple. Information on the awards can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and an entry form can be obtained from www.bfea.org.nz.
The awards are sponsored by Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Silver Fern Farms, LIC, Massey University, Hill Laboratories and PGG Wrightson.
They are also backed by Environment Waikato, Environment Bay of Plenty, the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council, Environment Canterbury, Otago Regional Council and the Northland Regional Council.
For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, email@example.com or visit www.bfea.org.nz