A lifetime of dedication nets dairy and beef farmers Poplar Partnership the Regional Supreme Award at the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards


Home / News / Award News / A lifetime of dedication nets dairy and beef farmers Poplar Partnership the Regional Supreme Award at the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Peter, John and Karen McErlean of Poplar Partnership have been announced as Regional Supreme Winners at the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Palmerston North this evening.

John and Karen have come a long way since purchasing the initial 43ha block in 1983. Poplar Partnership Ltd was formed in 2002 with John’s brother, Peter, and today the total area of the family farm is 1,719ha.

John, Peter and Karen have steadily improved the genetics of their Herefords and have also become known for the development of strong genetic lines in their Friesian cows. Multiple wetlands have been created and extended throughout the farm, including significant investment in the planting of native trees.

In an innovative move to retain staff, the McErleans have created another company called 164 Partnership Ltd. This is a small dairy farm with 200 cows, owned by the McErleans and eight employees.

In awarding the Regional Supreme Award, the judges commended the McErleans’ commitment to people, livestock, land stewardship, biodiversity and habitat creation, all of which has resulted in a highly successful and sustainable business.

Looking to the future, the McErleans are keen to continue developing the wetlands, as well as working to protect a native giant snail colony on one of the support blocks. They also aim to explore the integration of vegetable crops into their farming operation as demand grows.

Peter, John and Karen McErlean also won the following awards:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award

Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award

DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award

Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award

Norwood Farming Efficiency Award

Rabobank Agri-Business Management Award

Other Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Award winners include:

Graham and Tracey Sinnamon — Meringa Station – Pamu

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award

NZFET Biodiversity Award

Horizons Regional Council Award for the Integration of Trees

Josh Millard — Tongariro Dairy Unit – Pamu

NZFET Climate Recognition Award

Jason and Amanda Prior — DownUnder Honey

NZFET Innovation Award

Michael Bourke — Mangahuia Wetlands

Margaret Matthews Trophy for Commitment to Sustainability

The awards also served to showcase local catchment group Tararua Plantain Project, which is an innovative community project looking into the use of plantain on farms as a means of reducing nitrogen leaching.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are run by the NZ Farm Environment Trust and champion sustainable farming and growing. The Supreme Winner from each of the eleven regions involved in the awards will go through to be considered for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at the Trust’s National Showcase at Te Papa in May. The recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy then become 2023’s National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

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