A Tirau farm whose business tagline is ‘creating value inside the farm gate’ has taken out a major Waikato award.
Dennley Farms, owned and operated by Adrian and Pauline Ball, was announced the Regional Supreme Winner at the 2019 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards champion sustainable farming and growing through an awards programme which sees one supreme winner selected from each of the 11 regions involved. The supreme winners will be profiled at the Awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on June 6, with each in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.
Dennley Farms won thanks to its strong environmental, social and economic sustainability. The business’ tagline is ‘creating value inside the farm gate’ and the team is active in the creation of meaningful industry change and driven to improve consumer perception of the sector.
Aspiring to model low-input, low-footprint, high animal welfare values, the Balls have achieved best practice agronomy to optimise crop and animal yields without compromising environmental health.
Dennley Farms initiatives include working closely with nutrient suppliers to ensure fertilisers are applied at appropriate times and ensuring soil testing is undertaken on pasture every other year and annually on cropped land.
The couple’s early adoption of technology demonstrates an intention to run a business that has science, logic and progressive innovation at its heart.
Long-term plans are to fine-tune farm-grown feed requirements, trial crops and practices that reduce the farm’s footprint further year-on-year, introduce more energy-saving and cost-effective infrastructure to the asset base, and maintain growth across the dairy platform and beef breeding enterprise.
The cropping and finishing farm runs alongside the Waihou River. Fencing setbacks are 20m plus, to allow for revegetation of the river banks. The dry stock farm is 100 percent off-the-grid using solar power, a deep well water supply, and solar electric fencing. The pond areas on the dairy farm are hotspots for biodiversity and provide a great habitat for frogs and many waterfowl species.
Adrian said entering the awards was a good way to get others’ opinions about what they are doing on the farm. “We have been involved with the industry for a while now and it’s good to be positive and share our story. You never feel like you are ‘ready’ but having an understanding of the issues and options is important and the awards offer that opportunity.”
The judges said: “Dennley have made big and brave changes to their farm system. Their focus changed from production to profit and the environmental and social footprint of the business.”
This year, the Balls also received four other awards:
– Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, which focuses on the excellent management of soil and nutrients.
– DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award, which recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate a strong commitment to managing, protecting and enhancing their environment.
– Massey University Innovation Award, which recognises the farmer or grower that demonstrated Kiwi ingenuity for solving a problem or pursuing a new opportunity.
– Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award, given in recognition of excellent knowledge and attitude towards riparian management.
Each year, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ ceremonies, the National Sustainability Showcase, and winners’ field days offer a pan-sector forum for networking and the sharing of ideas and information among farming/growers peers, agribusiness professionals and the wider community.