Entries for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards have just opened and the region’s winners from this year are encouraging people to go into the competition.
Run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the awards promote sustainable land management by showing the work of people farming in a way that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
The competition is held in nine regions, including the Horizons area, and the awards are open to all farmers and growers.
This year’s winners Curwen and Marija Hare, from Waituna, said it had been a great experience, with feedback from judges and people who attended their farm field day.
The Hares said they had been asked to enter in previous years, but did not. However, they put the farm forward for the 2013 competition.
“I was very surprised we won. All our plantings are in their infancy and will look better in a few years’ time,” said Curwen Hare.
He said it was a pat on the back that showed they were going in the right direction.
Hare said waterways on the sheep and beef property were all fenced to keep cattle out.
“I guess that’s a bit unusual for a sheep and beef farm [rather than riparian planting on a diary farm]. But with our plantings, there are harder surfaces and the creeks run cleaner. We don’t lose sheep and cattle the way we used to. They used to be up to their bellies in mud. Now the sheep hardly get their feet wet.”
He urged farmers and growers to enter the contest, and said it was not a baring of the farm’s finances, rather it tapped into a philosophy.
Trust chairman Alistair Polson said all farmers, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists, should consider entering.
“Most people enter because they want feedback on how their farming operation stacks up in terms of environmental and economic sustainability.”
Polson said many past entrants had also commented that their involvement in the competition had helped their personal development “because they get to meet and be inspired by a range of like-minded people”.
Regional supreme winners are honoured at the trust’s annual sustainability showcase, where a national winner is announced.
(Source – http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/cropping/9008032/Green-awards-pathway-to-self-improvement)