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Entries close soon for farm environment awards

Entries close soon for farm environment awards

Bay of Plenty farmers and orchardists are slowly taking up the invitation to enter the region’s second Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The awards, which are supported regionally by Environment Bay of Plenty, close for nominations on Friday 31 October.

Coordinator Sheree Phillips says entries have trickled in over the last two weeks but expects a last minute rush next week. She says that was the pattern for the inaugural awards last year. “We ended up with 37 entries but the majority arrived in the final few days. We just don’t want people to forget to send them in this year!”

Last year’s entrants found it a very positive experience and many told her they are recommending it to their friends. “They learnt a lot from it and found it fun and interesting. It gave them a greater sense of what they were achieving on their own properties.”

They also enjoyed exchanging ideas and practices.

An important feature of the judging process is the opportunity provided for judges and farmers to share information. All competitors are given a feedback report that highlights areas where they are excelling in resource management and provides suggestions to assist them in future.

“Some people have told me they will consider entering again in a year or two when they’ve put in place some of the practices suggested by the team that assessed them.”

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards promote the concept that sustainable farming is practical, achievable and profitable. Last year, the event was enthusiastically welcomed by a wide range of farm-related organisations, including New Zealand Landcare Trust, Forest and Bird and the Bay of Plenty Farm Forestry Association.

Katikati’s Ian Pirani, who has farmed drystock and goats and grown kiwifruit, will lead the judging pool this year. It will contain representatives from organisations involved in sustainable land management, including Federated Farmers, Farm Forestry Association, ANZ bank and the regional council.

There will be a preliminary round of judging, then finalists will have a further visit by judges for a more in-depth analysis of the actual farming practices and initiatives.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are now run annually in seven regions. Principal sponsor for the national awards programme is Ballance Agri-Nutrients, with support from ANZ Bank, Wrightson, Gallagher, Richmonds and Livestock Improvement Corporation.

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