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Ballance Farm Environment Awards Good Fun, Says Farmer

Ballance Farm Environment Awards Good Fun, Says Canterbury Farmer

“It’s a fun competition with a serious side.”

That’s how Mid Canterbury farmer Philip Wareing describes the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Philip and wife Wendy own Mt Arrowsmith Station – a 9000ha sheep, beef and deer farm, 70km southwest of Methven.

The Wareings and their former managers, Eric and Sally Smith, entered the high country property in the 2012 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment (BFEA) Awards, winning a major category award.

Though Philip admits it took some gentle arm-twisting to get him into the competition, he was pleased he participated, even if things didn’t go exactly to plan on judging day.

“Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” he laughs.

Notable incidents during the farm tour included a flat tyre and an unsavoury encounter with a possum.

But the judges took this in their stride, later awarding Mt Arrowsmith the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award. This award recognises “the livestock farmer who demonstrates in a practical way the choices that have been made to farm for the long term”.

BFEA judges said Philip’s passion for the farm was clearly evident, noting that development on Mt Arrowsmith had achieved a balance between increased production and long-term stewardship priorities.

Stock numbers on the property had increased from 6000 stock units to 14,000 stock units in the 14 years since the Wareings purchased it, and judges said Mt Arrowsmith was achieving efficient stock performance in a tough environment.

“No aspect of the business has been neglected,” they said. They also noted the farm’s excellent recording systems and the “high use of direct drilling to protect soils”.

Philip, who is heavily involved in his own road transport business and lives off-farm, says the implementation of a farm management reporting system has improved the sustainability of the business and reduced the risk of costly mistakes.

He says he enjoyed showing BFEA judges around Mt Arrowsmith.

“We had two panels of judges here and the different judges all brought different skills and experience. They gave us some great feedback and the whole judging process was very relaxed and encouraged the free flow of information.”

Philip says one of the things he likes most about the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is that anyone can enter.

“They are open to all farmers. You don’t have to have the perfect farm or lots of tertiary qualifications to get involved,” he says.

“If you are proud of your farm, you should give it a go. It’s good fun.”

Entries for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards are now open. Entry forms are available at www.bfea.org.nz

More information on the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, including regional closing dates, can be found on the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website.

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