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Farmers Encouraged To Enter Ballance Awards

Entries for the 2009 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on October 1 and former winner Earl Dillon is encouraging farmers to enter.

Earl and wife Vicki won the Supreme award in 2008 and also took out the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Ballance Nutrient Management Award and the Gallagher Innovation Award.

With the help of manager Terence Green, they run a 750ha arable operation at Balfour in Northern Southland.

While their excellent understanding of soil types and their eagerness to implement best practice in all their farming systems was a key factor in their win, Earl says he and Vicki have always been aware of a perception that arable farmers “just chuck chemicals on and pillage the environment”.

“But we were reasonably confident in our systems,” he says. “And being involved in the competition gave us the opportunity to show that our farming practices are both environmentally sustainable and economically viable.”

Nevertheless, it came as a big shock when they were announced Supreme winners.

“We’d never done anything like this before. The media attention that came with winning the award blew us away because we are simply not used to being in the spotlight.”

But the Dillons thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and their involvement with the judges and other entrants has proved inspirational.

“As farmers we are constantly assessing things and trying to be more environmentally aware. But it’s nice to know that we are on the right track with what we are doing.”

Earl says the judging process was relatively relaxed and enjoyable. “The judges had a format, but it was basically just a chat around the kitchen table.”

He would recommend the experience to any farmer.

“We are constantly reading negative commentary about farming in the media, so it was really good to be involved with something positive.

“This competition shows that farmers do know what they are doing and they do care about the environment.”


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