6 November 2007
Entries for the annual Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards have opened with a powerful recommendation to land owners to consider entering from the 2007 Supreme award-winner Evan Smeath.
“I thoroughly recommend everyone to have a go, because you learn so much in the process,” says Evan. He describes winning the LIC Dairy Farm Award and the Ballance Nutrient Management Award, then the Supreme award as the “pinnacle of our farming career.”
Evan and Sherleen Smeath, and their family, had a roller coaster year which included two big floods, in March and July, on their 167ha Hukerenui dairy farm. “However, it has been a real privilege to have won the awards under difficult circumstances,” says Evan. “The contest has opened doors for us and we found the judging experience brilliant.
“It is so valuable to have people with expertise in their own fields on your property and to be able to discuss sustainability and productivity aspects with them.”
Evan and Sherleen went to the national showcase event for regional Supreme winners, held in Queenstown, shortly after the July flood hit the home farm. It provided a big tonic for them after the second widespread inundation of low-lying land contained within the Hikurangi Swamp Scheme.
Pasture that had been re-sown after the lengthy immersion in March/April suffered again and the recovery costs continued to mount. But they were able to get a break from those worries and “meet really neat like-minded people” from the other regions.
Entries in Northland for 2008 judging opened on October 26 and one of the first entries was received from Roger Ludbrook, sheep and beef farmer from one of Northland’s oldest farming families.
A farmer at Ohaeawai, near Kaikohe, Roger has judged in the awards for the past two years. “I am entering for the advice we will get from judges,” Roger explained about his switch. “With a lot of streams on the farm, I am looking for specific advice on wetlands and riparian strips, especially what trees to plant,” he says.
Roger Ludbrook says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards provide knowledge and opportunities to all of the region’s farmers and growers.
Entries close on Friday, December 7 and the preliminary judging will be done in February/March.
Entry forms are available from Gayle Farrell, Drinnan Rd, RD 2, Whangarei, telephone 09 433 1576, email firstname.lastname@example.org
They are also available online, through www.bfea.org.nz