2009 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards


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Omamari beef farmers Peter and Pam Kelly have taken out the Supreme award in the 2009 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.They also picked up the NZ Farm Environment Award Trust Habitat Improvement Award at the awards presentation held in Whangarei on April 22.The Kellys have a specialised, intensive cattle farm with good animal husbandry, high production and very good financial returns, while actively applying good pest management, planting, soil management and other environmental policies.

Two-thirds of their Omamari farm, on the west coast north of Dargaville, is under Technosystem for intensive beef cattle production, achieving up to 600kg/ha of carcase weight annually. The rest of the pasture is also intensively farmed with cell grazing. The property has a long-term, whole-farm production of 380kg/ha CW. The former Landcorp property is 300ha, consisting of 250ha of pasture, 40ha of forestry and 10ha of shelter and ponds. 

When Ballance Farm Environment Award judges visited in mid-February the farm was carrying 800 cattle, including rising-two-year bulls, rising-one-year bulls, combined beef heifers and steers, and dairy grazers. The judges said the Kelly’s management organisation is superb, with the robust Technosystem well suited to the fragile sandy soils. Flexibility is still maintained within the management system, through a mix of livestock classes, not just bulls.

Networking and relationship building skills are at a high standard, along with confidence in the ability of a staff member to run the property for long periods of the owners’ absence. Long-term sustainability of fragile, sandy soils on west coast slopes at Omamari is the over-riding principle of the Kelly’s farm management.
Big bulls are kept off steep land, crops and pasture plants are established with spray and Cross-Slot drill, rather than cultivation. Many tree species are planted, flax is used for a stock barrier and wet areas have been drained.

The Kellys aim “to get the best out of kikuyu” using intensive grazing management, supplemented with new pasture establishment using AR37 ryegrass and plantain. 

Pasture renovation of 15 to 20ha each year aims to keep kikuyu at bay. 

A very strong history of balanced fertiliser use is well targeted to ensure maximum production in the crucial July to November period. RPR blends are used, applying phosphate, potassium and some sulphur, along with one application a year of nitrogen.
Single trees like Norfolk pines have been planted along the fences between laneways of the Technosystems to provide cattle shelter in future. They are released with spray to keep kikuyu competition down.
Shelter belts include some with flax bushes and trees to provide good wind protection and strong visual barriers for cattle.

A field day will be held on the Kelly farm at Omamari Beach, Babylon Coast Rd, Northland on Wednesday, May 13, beginning at 10.30am, signposted from SH 12, north of Dargaville.

Other winners in the 2009 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:
LIC Dairy Farm Award and Ballance Nutrient Management Award: Scott and Lee Taylor, Tangiteroria.
Hill Laboratories Harvest Award and Gallagher Innovation Award: Mike and Cathy Crum, Maungatapere.
Silver Fern Farms Livestock Award and PGG Wrightson Land & Life Award: John and Lurline Blackwell, Okahu.
Northland Regional Council Water Quality Enhancement Award: John and Jo Wood, Pipiwai.
Merit Awards: George and Peggy Morrison, Kaingaroa; Haydn and Joanne Bonham, Kerikeri; River Heights Farm, Te Kopuru; and John and Jenny Waterhouse, Titoki.

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