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Westview Wins Supreme Award

28 April 2006

Westview Wins Supreme Award

Shane Carroll and Nicola Shadbolt have tonight been named the 2006 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Award Supreme winners.

Shane and Nicola run a farming partnership that has strengthened in all ways since its formation 19 years ago.

They also won the PPCS Best Livestock Farm award, the Livestock Improvement Best Dairy Farm award and the Horizons Regional Council award for integration of trees.

The couple instigated the equity share enterprise to buy and farm Westview Farm, an 1100ha property north of Ashhurst, and admit to being pleasantly surprised at its long-term success.

In the partnership’s formation time, when Shane and Nicola were advertising in newspapers for four other shareholders, their expectation was the number would reduce over the years as partners were bought out.
“But no one’s wanted to get out,” says Shane, “it’s worked well.”

Now, Shane and Nicola are responsible for a multi-faceted operation that includes 347ha more land than the original area and covers forestry production and 16,000 stock units of sheep, beef, deer and dairy animals.

Shane can see the long-term view all partners have taken of the business as a great strength.
“Even though the other partners are urban professionals, not farmers, they have always strongly supported sustainability.
“The size and scope and diversification of our operation allows us to make long-term decisions and not just focus on short-term gains, and survival.”

When presented with figures, the partners have only ever been interested in true profit, and knowing that the sums showed their asset was being maintained at the same time as profit was being achieved, says Shane.
Shane and Nicola have always worked hard to ensure there are “no surprises” on the business side of the partnership and appreciate the trust that has built over the years.

Shane recognises how what he calls “the urban slant” the other partners have bought into the business has improved it.
He uses as an example their reaction at their annual meeting following a particularly buoyant year for sheep farming. The figures were extremely healthy, the profit higher than expected and showed 85 percent of the income was from the sale of sheepmeat and wool. But the partners were, in Shane’s words, “glum”.
“Whereas farming types would have been saying, great, lets go buy more sheep and some land for them, the partners all thought, hang on, we are overexposed here, let’s get into something else as well.”

So they added dairying into the mix and because this was before the value of dairy company shares rose sharply, the partnership found they owned “a big bunch of dairy shares, from which significant wealth was later created”.

All partners have a far-sighted global awareness of the growing power of consumers to dictate how what they buy is produced. So implementing sustainable farming practises and policies has been done without question on the Westview land.

Westview Farm was the first MRDC monitor farm in the area and later became a Sustainable Land Management Focus farm.
Shane admits that his original perception of “sustainable” farming has widened far beyond “planting a few trees” since then.

The awards’ key objectives are to show farmers they need not compromise and, in the best examples, can restore environmental values.

The awards have attracted strong sponsorship from rural product and service providers who share the Trust’s commitment and vision. 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. They are also supported in the by Horizons Regional Council.

A field day will be held at Westfield on 30 May from 10am – 2pm at Pohangina Valley East road, Ashhurst.

Other results were:

BALLANCE NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT AWARD -
JEFF & JANICE WILLIAMS

Eight years ago Jeff and Janice Williams took a hard look at their town supply dairy farming business on the western outskirts of Palmerston North.
They were, recounts Jeff, “stuck in a rut, the same production year in, year out”.

Their response to this reasonably common dilemma was not the usual one of, go bigger.
Cashing up and leaving the place to urban sprawl was not an option either as Jeff readily admits to having a strong emotional tie to the farm that he worked on with his father, and now works on with his 19-year-old son Robert.
Instead, the Williams’ chose to “grow the business” by markedly intensifying their operation.

Their results have been a revelation and a pleasure to them. Jeff’s knowledge of fertiliser and cow nutrient requirements has deepened considerably but he is quick to point out, this is an ongoing process.
“I certainly don’t claim to know it all,” he says, “I am still learning, every day.”

RABOBANK LAND & LIFE AWARD –
CHRIS BIRD
Commitment is a word used often in the report of the award judges for Kimbolton sheep and beef farmer Chris Bird.

Wrote the judges: “Chris’s commitment to his family, his farming community and his business were apparent.
“The management and integrity he has applied to all aspects that make up a farming enterprise is very commendable.”

Chris has been on his 533ha property almost all his working life but he displays, according to the judges, a noteworthy “balanced approach” to his life, the farm business and the environment.


WRIGHTSON HABITAT IMPROVEMENT AWARD
- MICHAEL BOURKE

Michael Bourke has combined farming with a passion for his natural surroundings since he was at school.
His 400ha property north east of Rangiwahia plays host to much more than sheep, beef cows, bulls and deer.
By planting and earthworks – which he began with his father while a schoolboy – Michael has either created or enhanced extensive habitat areas for both native and exotic wildlife, including several stunning large wetland areas.

The award judges were very impressed, writing in their feedback report after they visited the farm:
“The passion and love of birds and habitat, to support the wide variety of wildlife established at your property, is a credit to your devotion to the task you started as a young man.
“We were all strongly of the opinion that there is a world out there who would appreciate what you have accomplished, that should have the opportunity to visit your gift to the Rangiwahia environment.”

GALLAGHER INNOVATION AWARD

John and Donna Journeaux

For the protection, enhancement and utilisation of a regenerating native forest for ginseng production.

ENDS

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