16 April 2016
Portobello sheep and beef farmers Brendon and Paula Cross have been named Supreme winners of the 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
At a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 15 (2016), the couple also collected the Otago Regional Council Quality Water Management Award, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.
Brendon and Paula farm 200ha Roselle Farm and 618ha of leased land on the Otago Peninsula. Their breeding operation runs 4900 stock units on 613ha effective, with sheep making up 95% of the stock units farmed.
BFEA judges described their business as a “successful farming operation that incorporates the complexities and challenges of farming in a semi-urban environment”.
Despite the mostly steep hill contour and exposure to coastal winds, the farms achieve good stock performance.
“Brendon and Paula seem to have struck a balance between maintaining above-average production while enhancing and protecting the environment”, judges said.
Their farming operation is underpinned by “well-developed business planning and an extraordinary commitment to community and building relationships”.
The Cross family has strong historical ties to the area. Brendon took over Roselle Farm in 1995 after the death of his father Ron. His mother Annette still lives on the farm.
In 2001, Brendon and Paula, a teacher, expanded the business by adding the first block of lease land. They now lease four properties within five kilometres of Roselle Farm, including two blocks adjoining the iconic Hereweka-Harbour Cone.
“The contour of the land and limitations of lease agreements influence the type of pastures present on each unit and how they are best managed,” judges said.
“There is little opportunity to forage crop on the properties but the farms are achieving good animal performance on the existing unimproved pasture species.”
Judges noted the long-term and effective use of external advice, genetics, monitoring and recording to improve stock performance. The couple became involved with the Sheep for Profit programme early on, using a structured plan for stock improvement that has helped them lift their lambing to 139 percent last season.
Judges also praised the Cross family’s strong environmental and conservation focus.
Brendon and Paula were instrumental in the establishment of the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group, and Brendon is currently chairman.
“They are both committed to a vision of a better understanding of rural life and work for urban people,” said judges.
“This is reflected in their involvement in many of the local community activities and the access they provide to children and students to visit and learn from the farm.”
QEII National Trust covenants have been placed on two blocks of regenerating native bush, and another area recognised as a habitat for the seriously endangered Jewelled Gecko is to be predator fenced and planted with support from the Gecko Trust.
A BFEA Supreme-winner field day will be held on Roselle Farm on Wednesday 18 May 2016.
Winners in the 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:
Supreme award, Otago Regional Council Quality Water Management Award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust; Brendon and Paula Cross, Roselle Farm, Portobello.
PGG Wrightson People in Agriculture Award, CB Norwood Distributors Agri-Business Management Award; Marty and Lynette Deans, Lonestar Farms, Barewood Station, Pukerangi.
Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Massey University Innovation Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award; James and Matt Dicey, Mt Difficulty Wines Ltd, Bannockburn.
LIC Dairy Farm Award; David and Robyn Balchin, Springpark Farms, Clinton.
For more information on the 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Otago BFEA regional coordinator Camille McAtamney, ph 03 418 3972, 027 418 3414, or email firstname.lastname@example.org