Meeting like-minded people and learning about their approaches to environmentally sustainable farming is among the highlights of entering the 2015 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Geoff and Gerda Bradly of Nga Rakau Farm, Manawahe.
“One of the main things I got out of entering was seeing other properties and farmers,” says Geoff.
Geoff and Gerda Bradly of Manawahe encourage found entering the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards a rewarding experience.
“They were all committed to the environment and it was interesting to see the different approaches they took.”
Geoff and Gerda’s farm is a self-contained system with 140 hectares of dairy land carrying 343 cows and a 240ha run-off of grazing replacement calves/ heifers and a beef herd of 35 breeding cows, 80 mixed age beef cattle and 20 service bulls.
In the few short years they have owned the farm, (and leased some land too) the couple have turned what was a marginal dairy farm into a highly productive unit, while at the same time retiring a significant stand of native bush and fencing out and planting waterways.
Their environmental work won the couple the Waterforce Integrated Management Award and judges were impressed at the work Geoff has done to control waterways.
The judging process was another aspect of entering the awards which appeals to Gerda and Geoff. “The judges are like-minded people with a lot of knowledge and experience and are very willing to share their advice and guidance.”
Geoff recommends anyone with a strong interest in improving the environmental sustainability of their farm or orchard to consider entering the awards.
“There are very few field days about environmental sustainability and the awards are a chance to learn more about what can be achieved.”
Entry for the 2016 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on October 16 and organisers are encouraging farmers and horticulturalist to consider taking part.
Bay of Plenty awards judging co-ordinator Margaret Wright also urges anyone who knows a farmer or orchardist with a strong focus on environmental sustainability, to encourage them to enter.
“Sometime people need a little prodding because they think their property is not ready. The truth is in farming and orcharding, there is always something more to do so there’s no perfect time to enter but all those who do gain a lot from the experience,” she says.
“Being part of the awards is a stimulating, informative and enjoyable opportunity to benchmark your farm with other like-minded farmers in your region”
All entrants go through a judging process which considers the entire environment that the farm or orchard operates within, with particular consideration to sustainable profitability, environmental awareness, good business practices and social and community responsibility.
The awards recognise and celebrate good farm practices which promotes sustainable land management through the annual contest now run in 11 regions throughout New Zealand.
These are co-ordinated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust which believes that positive role models and opportunities for learning are the most effective tools to improving farm practices.
To enter go to:www.nzfeatrust.org.nz/