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Katikati Couple Claim Top Title in BoP Ballance Farm Awards

Katikati Couple Claim Top Title in BoP Ballance Farm Environment Awards

A focus on protecting marginal areas of their farm while lifting productivity of grazeable land helped Katikati farmers Rick Burke and Jan Loney take out the Supreme title in the 2014 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Rick and Jan, who farm 350ha Pukekauri Farms in the foothills of the Kaimai Ranges, also picked up a string of category awards at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on February 28.

BFEA judges praised the couple’s teamwork and excellent people skills, noting the outstanding plantings on riparian areas and marginal land that “look stunning and greatly enhance biodiversity”.

They were also impressed with the excellent production being achieved on the rest of the farm.

Pukekauri is made up of 250ha owned by the Seddon Family Trust, a 50ha joint venture between the Seddon Family Trust and Rick Burke, plus a further 50ha owned by Rick. The combined properties are farmed by Rick and Jan as one unit to provide an economic and sustainable block.

A total of 212ha is effective grazing land, with 110ha in covenanted mature native bush, wetlands and riparian planting and 28ha in plantation pines, redwoods and Cyprus lusitanica.

The retirement of weed and erosion-prone land has simplified management and resulted in an increase in production and profitability from the grazed areas. Protecting and planting streams has also reduced flooding and erosion.

Rick and Jan run sheep, bull beef and dairy grazers, aiming to obtain the best possible return per kilogram of drymatter from an all-grass system.

Stock health was excellent, judges said, and the farm was achieving above average production for the region.

Pastures were well maintained and there is real “synergy between environmental planning and the excellent production of the farmed area”.

While relatively new to farming, Jan makes an important contribution to the operation, using her skills to improve business monitoring and goal setting.

Judges also noted good stock health, sound financial management, good nutrient management and a “very strong community engagement”.

“The focus is always back to people and people skills. There is strong teamwork between Rick and Jan.”

Along with the Supreme title, the couple also picked up the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award and a Bay of Plenty Regional Council Environmental Award 2.

A BFEA field day will be held on Pukekauri Farms, with the date to be advised.

Winners in the 2014 BoP Ballance Farm Environment Awards are:

Supreme Award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award and Bay of Plenty Regional Council Environmental Award 2; Pukekauri Farms, Rick Burke and Jan Loney, Katikati.

Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Environmental Award 1; Trevor and Harriet Hamilton, Rere Lake Ltd, Rotorua.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, LIC Dairy Farm Award, Meridian Energy Excellence Award; R.L and H.S. McKenzie Ltd, Lachlan and Heather McKenzie, Sherwood Farm, Rotorua.

Massey University Innovation Award: Dreamfields Farm Ltd, Bruce and Judy Woods, Whakatane.

Ends

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