29 August 2008
It’s time to start preparing for the 2009 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Operating in eight regions, the annual contest promotes sustainable profitable land management and is organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Awards (NZFEA) Trust.
Entries for the Bay of Plenty region opened on August 6, with Canterbury opening on September 1 and Wellington on September 8. Entries for Waikato, Horizons, Southland and Otago open on October 1 and Northland entries open on October 27.
NZFEA general manager David Natzke urges farmers to support the competition. “I’m full of admiration for those people who entered last year because weather-wise it wasn’t the best of years for farming,” he says. “This year has been just as bad, if not worse, with drought and then flooding in many regions. But people shouldn’t hold back from entering the competition just because they feel their farming enterprise is not looking the best. All the judges are involved in farming and they certainly take climatic conditions into account during the judging process.”
A new initiative launched by the NZFEA this year means farmers can be nominated to enter the awards 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 consider would make a worthy entrant.”
Mr Natzke says past entrants have described their participation in the awards as a highly rewarding experience. And strong attendances at the Supreme winner field days this year show that farmer interest in the awards is running strong. 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.
“But you don’t have to have the best looking farm in the district to enter. The awards cover a wide range of categories, and you only have to be performing well in one area to have a chance of picking up a category award. ”Supreme winners from each region will be honoured at a Showcase event next year. They will also be entitled to apply for the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust and MAF Study Scholarship.
Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is very 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 or from participating sponsors.
The awards are sponsored by Ballance Agri-Nutrients, along with Silver Fern Farms, LIC, Gallagher Group, 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.