Farm environmental awards highlight sustainability

Sustainable farming across the Horizons Region has been highlighted at the Ballance Farm Environmental Awards (BFEAs) this month.

The BFEAs are an annual awards programme which recognise and celebrate farm practices that promote sustainable land management in 11 regions throughout the country. Horizons Regional Council sponsors an award at the BFEAs each year as they align well with the Council’s land management goals.

“On behalf of Horizons I’d like to congratulate all of the farmers who achieved awards in their respective categories,” says Grant Cooper, Horizons land manager.

“As a member of the judging panel I’m always impressed with the standard of applicants. It’s really satisfying to see so many landowners thinking about how they can apply sustainable practices that benefit not only the environment, but also their production.”

Horizons councillor Pat Kelly presented the Horizons Regional Council Award for the Integration of Trees on the night. This was won by Ross Collier of Pentwyn Farms, Rangiwaea.

“This award recognises a farmer who has planted trees to improve the sustainability of their property and encompasses soil erosion prevention, biodiversity, stock well-being, and aesthetics,” says Cr Kelly.

“The judges were impressed with Ross’ awareness of soil types, conservation and erosion risk. His acknowledgement of these possible environmental impacts has lead to an extensive pole planting and riparian fencing programme to protect water quality.”

Ross Collier says he considers soil and people to be “the two most important assets” on his farm.

“My parents started planting when they moved here not long after I was born and I’ve just carried on. It’s a harsh climate at times but planning ahead, such as planting crops to combat zero winter growth, minimises soil damage and maximises production possibility.”

The BFEAs were held on 16 March in Palmerston North and Pongaroa sheep and beef farmers Shaun and Tracie Baxter won the Supreme Award.

“The Baxter’s have completed Horizons Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) whole farm plans for their farms. This involves creating soil maps to help with stock management, pole planting and woodlot planting decisions,” says Mr Cooper.

“It’s great to see the benefits that SLUI whole farm plans offer recognised on farms identified for their best practice. We’d like to thank all farmers who put their properties forward for the awards and recognise the effort they are putting into sustainability.”

Applications for the 2018 BFEAs open on 1 August. If anyone is interested in entering and would like to know more information please contact Horizons’ land team on freephone 0508 800 800.