24 September 2008
Two years after winning a category award in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Pikowai farmers Bruce and Tessa Calder are all set to enter the competition again. The Calders and their manager, Tama Murray, run a diverse farming operation on 450ha of medium hill country between Te Puke and Whakatane.
With a mix of activities that includes sheep and beef finishing, service bull leasing, dairy grazing, farm forestry, supplement sales and horse agistment, they believe they have found the right stock mix for their farm and developed a system that is both environmentally and economically sustainable.
Bruce and Tessa entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2006 and won the Ballance Nutrient Management Award. Judges were impressed by the Calder’s switch from blanket fertiliser application to a planned approach of identifying individual paddocks and liming and fertilising them according to the results of soil test recommendations.
Bruce says they enjoyed participating in the awards and he and Tessa learnt a lot from the judging process. “We came out of it with a list of recommendations, and we’ve worked on these suggestions over the last two to three years,” he says. Much of this work centres on the retiring and planting of uneconomic and environmentally sensitive areas of the farm.
Bruce says they are keen to see what the judges will think of their efforts. “Being involved with the competition is an interesting experience and you can glean a lot of information from it. I’d thoroughly recommend entering to anyone else.”
Entries for the 2009 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on October 10.
BFEA regional coordinator Kirsten Winter says most people enter because they want feedback on how their farming or horticultural 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. A new initiative launched this year means farmers or horticulturists can be nominated to enter the awards by other farmers or agribusiness people.