Intensive farmers’ light footprint
Benchmarking themselves against other farmers was one of the big pluses in entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Wairarapa farmers Mike and Liz McCreary.
Entering in the Greater Wellington region, they won the Massey University innovation, WaterForce integrated management, livestock and farm stewardship awards.
Each year, the McCrearys finish about 30,000 lambs and up to 1500 bulls and crop on their 618 hectare (540ha effective) property on the south eastern shores of Lake Wairarapa.
They bought the farm with Mike’s parents in 2008, and also have a specialist agricultural contracting business, McCreary Machinery, concentrating on minimum tillage ground and arable work.
Mike McCreary grew up in the Western Lake area and knows the distinct corner of South Wairarapa.
He said the feedback and comments from the awards judges, both in the first round and final, had opened their eyes to some of the things they were a little unsure of, such as techno systems and plantings.
‘‘We have an intensive farm. Our ability to back fence efficiently and spread the nutrients evenly across the whole farm has been a credit to our farm design ... Our nutrient footprint on the land is quite light for an intensive system.’’
He said the judging included a lot of conversation.
‘‘It was a fairly rounded process, not tedious or something to be scared of, but they kept us just being us as we went around so we could share our farm with them.
‘‘It was a neat thing to involve our staff. Involving them with the judging has given them more insight or more appreciation of the environmental reasons behind what we’re doing.’’
There are 11 regional awards held around the country, which follow the geographic boundaries of regional councils.
The awards for the Horizons regional council area opened last month, and will close on September 15.
The winners last year of the supreme award for the Horizons region, were Pongaroa sheep and beef farmers Shaun and Tracie Baxter.
The award judges commended the Baxters on a property where ‘‘all facets of sustainability’’ could be seen.
Pongaroa sheep and beef farmers Shaun and Tracie Baxter won the supreme award last year.