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Ballance Farm Environment Award for Efficient Water Use

14 September 2012

Efficient Water Use Recognised in Ballance Farm Environment Awards

An efficient irrigation system helps drive crop production on John Evan’s award-winning Tregynon Farm in the Dorie district.

Water is the life-blood of the 245ha mixed arable property and John’s efforts to manage water efficiently were recognised at the 2012 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

John says accurate monitoring is crucial for efficient water management. He monitors soil moisture content and water use on the farm and manages crops so they don’t all need watering at once.

“And if things get dry,” John says, “We stop irrigating pasture and focus on the high-value crops.”

John recently completed construction of a 2ha dam which is capable of holding around one week’s supply of water that is utilised at the time of greatest need.

BFEA judges were impressed with Tregynon’s well-planned irrigation infrastructure which includes a switching system that reduces pressure on the well-water supply by ‘telling’ the second irrigator to start when the first one has finished its run.

The WaterForce Integrated Management Award recognises farmers who have developed and implemented integrated water management systems and processes for water used within their farming system. The Award takes into account the design of systems and the efficiency of monitoring water usage, water saved and cost-effectiveness.

As well as the WaterForce Award, Tregynon also won the Ballance Nutrient Management Award. John was a first time entrant in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

While he was happy to win these awards, his main reason for entering the competition was to see if he was on the right track as far as sustainability goes.

“It was all about the actual journey for me. It wasn’t about the prizes, but it was a real honour to be judged by people I have looked up to in my farming career and be deemed by them as worthy of an award.

“I want to farm the best I can with the resources I’ve got. If you look after your resources, more often than not, the profitability will follow.”

What he liked about the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was that the judges clearly understood this approach.

“It was a very good experience and I’d definitely encourage other farmers to enter because it is well worthwhile and you can learn so much.

“I also think it’s important that farmers stand up and be counted. We need good farming stories to counteract the bad publicity and show urban people and the wider rural community that farmers are doing their best when it comes to sustainability.”

Tregynon is run with the help of one fulltime labour unit and a student over summer. John is also assisted by his partner, Kai Tegels, and his 87-year-old father, Jack.

Entries are now open for the 2013 Canterbury Ballance Environment Farm Awards.

The Awards, which have been running in the region for 10 years, celebrate responsible land stewardship and sustainable farm management practices.

Jocelyn Muller, the Canterbury Regional Coordinator for the Ballance Awards, said the awards continue to go from strength to strength in Canterbury.

“The Awards recognise and celebrate that best practice on-farm management is good for business and good for the environment.

“By entering the Awards, farmers have the opportunity to have their farms assessed by a team of skilled judges, all with expertise in their particular area.

“Farmers can use the judging process to discuss their ideas and business practices with the team of highly experienced and knowledgeable judges,” she said.

The period for entering the Canterbury awards is open until 1 October 2012, with the awards evening to be held in March 2013.

Entry forms for the 2013 competition are available from the NZFE website at www.bfea.org.nz . The website also has details on the awards and the award categories.

ENDS

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