Ballance Farm Environment Awards
Created in 2007 to recognize excellence in sustainable farming practices, The Ballance Farm Environment Awards currently offer eight national awards, in addition to individual regional awards.
Landcorp’s Burgess dairy unit on Wairakei Estate, under the care of farm managers Warwick and Brenda Halford and farm business manager Joan Barendsen has won two award categories within the 2018 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
Warwick Halford, Joan Barendsen & Professor Charlotte Severne
Burgess is the proud recipient of:
- The Massey University Farm Award.
- The Waikato River Authority Catchment Improvement Award.
The judges were impressed by:
- The strategy to decrease stocking rate with minimal impact on production.
This has been implemented to improve nitrogen leaching to water, maintain profitability and to raise animal welfare to an even higher standard. Though cow numbers have been reduced from 750 to 600 the production target remains 240,000kgs of milk solids this season. Out of the 19 Wairakei Estate dairy units Burgess has recently achieved top production on a per cow, per day basis.
- Stock monitoring and generating useful data for the management of Burgess using several tools – MINDA, cow collar system and CellSense Meter.
The SCR cow collar system used in combination with the MINDA technology means that cow health and heat detection can be readily monitored. The judges also noted that Warwick Halford “has an absolute passion for his work and embraces new ideas and technology as he strives for improvement across the farming operation”
- A very high standard of waterway fencing and riparian zones installed well beyond requirements.
The river and stream margins are securely fenced and carefully selected species has been chosen, with generous shade and shelter belts and wetlands specifically planted to encourage environmentally-led habitats.
- Promotion of native biodiversity within steep gullies and sidelings along the banks of the Pueto Stream is highly commendable.
- An excellent effort has been made to restore gullies in a challenging terrain and a large covered stand-off area is a fantastic asset for reducing contaminants.
The stand-off area is fantastic for soil conservation, particularly over the winter months. It is a valuable tool to help reduce compaction and overall soil damage. Wood chip from the stand-off area is composted and supplied at 5t/ha in an effort to improve soil organic matter.
With this only being its third season of dairying for Burgess, following conversion from forestry the pumice-based topsoil requires special attention. Biological farming methods have been adopted, included mixed and deep-rooted pasture species, use of compost from the stand off barns and a conscious effort to maintain cover, with direct drilling and over-sowing of pastures as needed.
Like all Landcorp dairy units Burgess has its own nutrient management plan, with an annual nutrient budget and the use of nitrogen is limited to 120 units of N per hectare. Farm dairy effluent is stored in a pond with a 30-day capacity and is distributed over 130ha using a travelling irrigator.
The nitrogen-leaching target is 25-35kg/ha/yr as Burgess lies within a sensitive Upper Waikato River catchment.
An exciting new project is underway, with Landcorp seeking the assistance of NIWA to create a groundwater model to help understand lateral flows of nitrate at a grid scale of 300m. This is built using shallow well data. It is anticipated that this information will lead to a greater understanding of groundwater flows and eventually lead to lysimeters being installed to improve the accuracy of data across all of Wairakei Estate.
Centre-pivot irrigation draws water for the Pueto Stream and covers 195ha, with a double level of alert built into the monitoring system controlling the use of water. Effluent spreading extends to 135ha. With monitoring and failsafe provided by the Smart farm System, a software package that uses telemetry to monitor effluent applications. The automated communications process collects data and transmits it to receiving equipment. This monitoring system is designed to identify any fault in the effluent lines and if a breach is detected the irrigator is immediately shut down.
Burgess has a great future ahead of it and serves as a role model for environmental performance on Wairakei Estate. It is very much a testament to the style of farming culture created by Landcorp and Wairakei Pastoral Limited with a heavy level of investment in sustainability and innovation paying obvious dividends.
New Zealand Farm Environment Awards
New Zealand farmers are amongst the world’s most efficient producers of safe, quality food and are renowned for their long-term sustainability focus. This is seen in the excellent stewardship of New Zealand farmland. The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust sets out to take a leadership role in showcasing this stewardship. They set out to publicise and promote widely these profitable sustainable farming practices.
The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust awards showcase the excellence of regional farming businesses over a wide range of categories.
- Wairakei Estate Landcorp farms have participated in the awards since 2004, winning a number of prizes including the top accolade, Supreme Award.
- A Wairakei Estate Landcorp farm was a finalist in the 2012 Waikato region awards and also recipient of the Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award.
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Trust
Farm Manager of the Year Awards
In 2012, Ian Nelson, farm manager on Resolution Dairy Unit, a Wairakei Estate Landcorp farm, was named Farm Manager of the Year for the Central Plateau Region. Landcorp is proud that a number of their dairy assistants have also been recognised by the award.