The search is on for the country’s most sustainable and productive farmers and horticulturalists with entries now open for the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust administers the annual competition and chairman Jim Cotman says entering is the perfect opportunity “to show our fellow New Zealanders that we do care about the environment. And most of us are doing a damn good job.”
Bay of Plenty Balance Farm Environment Award supreme winners for 2012 were Mamaku dairy farm owners Jim and Barbara Hitchcock.
With a focus on promoting profitable and sustainable farming, the awards now cover every aspect of agriculture and horticulture. It includes category awards that recognise sound farm management and business practices, efficient energy, nutrient and water use, excellent crop and animal husbandry, protection or enhancement of special habitats on-farm, and outstanding innovation.
Awards are held I nine regions throughout the country and a national supreme winner is chosen from the winners of each region.
Chairman for the Bay of Plenty awards is Bruce Calder who with wife Tessa is a past supreme winner.
“I would encourage anyone who is working to enhance the environment on their property to consider entering the awards because there is much to be gained from doing so,” says Bruce who entered three times over a six year period.
“One of the biggest benefits we found was when assessors visited our farm and gave advice on things we could do that we hadn’t even thought of and opened doors to funding for planting. Today our farm is benefiting from their advice.”
Bruce says people often feel they are not ready to enter because there is still so much they want to achieve but the awards have a broad range of categories which recognise those who are performing well in specific areas. “When it comes to managing the land, no one is ever ready as it’s always a work in progress, but that shouldn’t put anyone off.”
This year there are two new awards; the Meridian Energy Excellence Award designed to drive excellence in utilising on-farm opportunities to generate energy and maximise energy efficiency, and the Donaghy’s Farm Stewardship Award for achieving a balance between managing sustainable productivity while developing or protecting unique habitat.
John Cotman says the regional councils that support the awards are an essential part of the success of the programme “because they recognise that the promotion of sustainable farming is a win-win situation for their regions”.
“When you add in the support provided by sponsors and strategic partners like Fonterra, Rabobank, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, QEII National Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, it becomes obvious that New Zealand’s sustainability focus is well on the front foot.”
Entries for the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened on August 1, 2012, and John urges farmers and growers to get their entries in well before the closing date of October 12. To find out more go to www.nzfeatrust.org.nz/