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Manawahe Farmers Win Supreme Award

11 April 2006

Manawahe Farmers Win Supreme Award

Supreme Award winners Tim Jean and John Mackintosh.
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A Manawahe family that looks to get maximum enjoyment from their farm are the supreme award winners of this year’s Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The family team of John and Jean, and Tim and Jo Mackintosh also won the Rabobank Life and Land Award, the Wrightson Habitat Improvement Award and the Environment Bay of Plenty Environmental Award at a special ceremony in Te Puke today (April 11).

The awards, which are coordinated regionally by Environment Bay of Plenty, are designed to encourage farmers to support and adopt sustainable farming practices.

The Mackintoshs operate Chattan Farm in Manawahe, which they do with a focus for creating a well-managed sustainable property. They began working on the farm in 1972 when John and Jean purchased 390 hectares. They added to it in 1994, buying an extra 108 hectares from a neighbouring farm. In 2000 Tim and Jo began share-farming, leasing the farm in 2004 and also buying a neighbouring 220 hectare block.

Environment Bay of Plenty chairman John Cronin says the awards display to farmers that profitability does not have to be compromised and in the best examples can restore and enhance environmental values.

“They encourage and promote sustainable land management in the region, which aligns strongly with the objectives of Environment Bay of Plenty. We know that the best farmers have always looked after their farm environment. Environment Bay of Plenty’s strong involvement in these awards both recognises that long-standing commitment and urges others to change.”

According to the judges’ comments, the family is always looking for ways to improve the farm and their business without compromising the environment. The family also continually seeks to optimize their management systems, which in turn will contribute to their property’s sustainability. “They maintain excellent records electronically, allowing them to review progress and plan positively for the future.”

They run sheep and beef plus dairy grazers. Livestock condition is good and animal welfare is given high importance. They have also planted 28ha with radiata pine and 20ha with other species. These are protected through fencing and pest control measures.

“The family have a QEII covenant on their property and are part of the Manawahe Kokako Trust for Kokako restoration. They also work with Environment Bay of Plenty on land use plans and have been involved with the Manawahe Eco Trust for protection of the Manawahe Corridor.”

A field day will be held at the Chattan Farm in Manawahe on May 10. Mr Cronin encourages people to attend by calling the regional farm awards coordinator Sheree Phillips at Environment Bay of Plenty.

Other awards include:

Stuart and Alison Paton, Paton Farms Ltd, Murupara - Livestock Improvement Best Dairy Farm Award

Stuart and Alison strive to be good farmers seeking enjoyment, fulfillment and success from their farming enterprise, while at the same time pursuing their goal of a sustainable and successful farm. They have both been involved in farming for most of their lives and run their enterprise with everyday awareness and a focus on common sense decision-making.

Paton Farms is farmed in two separate blocks/herds, with a separate runoff for young stock. It’s all found on 190 hectares. Each year approximately 400 cows are milked and 120 calves are reared, with no stock losses for the current year. Livestock condition is excellent. This is evidence of their animal health management programme, which features regular checks and health updates from their veterinary advisor.

Most important to the Patons are their livestock because ‘if they look after the stock – the stock will look after them’. Stuart and Alison manage each manage a herd of their own and have a strong teamwork approach to other aspects of their farming business

They have strategically fenced and protected waterways plus river access, and will continue to search for ways to increase the quality and production from each block.

Paul and Sheryl Steens, PA & SC Steens, Te Puke - Winners of Hill Laboratories Best Harvest Farm Award and Gallagher Innovation Award

Paul and Sheryl Steens have been involved in the bee keeping industry for about 25 years and have lived on their current property for 21 years. From a beginning with just three hives, their business has grown and developed at a fast pace, faster in fact than some within the industry would have envisaged. They expect to have approx 6,500 hives established across areas of the North Island by the end of the year.

They have an innovative approach to many aspects of their beekeeping programme. An example is that every pallet, hive and lid they use can be traced at all times by a computer based program of bar coding.

The Steens are actively involved in the research and science behind honey production and have developed an innovative program to reward farmers based on the yield from their respective properties.

The enterprise has staff that are enthusiastic and involved. There are 15 permanent and up to 12 casual staff. All are encouraged to develop and grow within the business.

The Steens are leaders in the New Zealand honey industry and will continue to challenge all aspects of the honey industry and their own involvement.

David and Theresa Gee, Motuore Farms, Opotiki - PPCS Best Livestock Farm Award

David and Theresa Gee operate a dairy heifer grazing property on 158 hectares. The farm was in seven paddocks 34 years ago and now it is in 148. These paddocks are fenced to contours, separating the easy and flat areas from the steep for better land use and control.

The farm is a peninsula within the Ohiwa Harbour. It has a fenced buffer zone around its perimeter that has been planted for regeneration. The property has 10 ponds that are all protected and planted for duck habitat. All drains are fenced.

There are excellent pest management control strategies in place to protect their property and they have enhanced the natural environment with tree plantings and fenced areas.

They keep excellent records including individual client records for stock performance that go back 12 years.

The heifers are kept in owner’s mobs as much as possible and are farmed in nine groups of 60 head. This reduces competition and enhances management of both livestock and pasture. Each group has 16 paddocks which gives an early winter rotation of up to 35 days and down to 12 days in spring. Under very wet conditions the mobs may be shifted twice each day to avoid damage to pasture and soil.

Their strong community involvement includes Coastguard, harriers, cycle club, farm discussion groups and care groups.

Bruce and Tessa Calder, Pikowai Farms, Whakatane - Ballance Nutrient Management Award

Bruce and Tessa Calder run a highly productive dry stock and forestry farming operation with a remarkable amount of passion and pride. Their focus is to simplify the present farm programme but retain an efficient, effective and profitable business.

Stock health is excellent with animal welfare of prime importance. Stocking rates are closely monitored to protect their steeper land from erosion.

Bruce and Tessa have strong community involvement, which includes the Bay of Plenty Horse Society, New Zealand Hunt Association, PTA and farm discussion groups.

They readily participate in farming forums and use information networks at every available opportunity. The Calders have had a professional Nutrient Management Plan prepared by their local fertiliser company for the entire farm. Fertiliser and crop records are kept in detail to allow reviews of inputs against production and provide a basis for planning of future applications. It is worth noting that this farm moves from a base stocking rate of 5K stock units to approx 13K in June of each year (grazing in-calf dairy cows). This is right against the trend of everyday farming and requires a superior nutrient planning program. Such a program is in place.

Charles and Ellen Mitchell, Murupara - Environment Bay of Plenty Environmental Award

For environmental excellence in the plantings and landscaping around the auxiliary buildings.

The assessors were impressed with the commitment of Ellen and Charles to a program of tree and landscape planting. Areas of the farm lack sufficient shade for their livestock and this is being remedied with plantings of both native and exotic trees. To protect their cows on very hot days a system of automatic gates has been established to allow their animals access to what shade is presently available.

Ellen is to be congratulated on her landscaping efforts around the dairy and associated buildings. To use her own words “the dairy area is my office and I want a pleasant environment to work in”.

The awards

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are designed to encourage farmers to support and adopt sustainable farming practices. The awards have been held in the Waikato for 14 years. This is their fourth year in the Bay of Plenty. This year they have also been held in the Waikato, Manawatu/Wanganui, Wellington, Canterbury, Southland and Otago region. The Bay of Plenty awards were staged in conjunction with Environment Bay of Plenty.

The awards’ principal sponsor, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, is joined in supporting the Farm Environment Awards by Rabobank, PPCS, PGG Wrightson, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Gallagher Group and Hill Laboratories.

The aim of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is to encourage and support farmers to pursue good environmental practices. They are designed to be a positive experience for everyone, an exchange of information and ideas and a chance for farmers to get information and advice from the various judging representatives and their peers.

In 2006, judges for the Bay of Plenty Awards included representatives from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers, farm consultants, Livestock Improvement, Rabobank, Deer Farmers Association, and Environment Bay of Plenty.

ENDS

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