A Passion for the Environment


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Competing in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards provided the Butson family with a valuable outside view of their High Country operation.  The Butson’s passion for the environment and their careful matching of environmental objectives with production earned them the Otago Regional Council Sustainable Resource Management Award in the 2008 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Robert and Linda Butson and their son David and daughter Kate farm Mt Nicholas Station – a 40,000ha property on the western shore of Lake Wakatipu, near Queenstown. Mount Nicholas carries about 32,000 stock units, running Merino sheep and Hereford cattle on contour that rises from 330 to over 2000m above sea level.

It’s a challenging High Country farm but Ballance Farm Environment Award judges were impressed with the Butson’s management of the geography and their “allocation of labour inputs and resources to ensure farm development merges with the environment”.

Kate Butson says the family’s main reason for entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was to seek an outside view of their operation and find out if they were on the right path to environmental and business sustainability.

“Ours is a tight-knit family operation but sometimes the downside of this is that you can become a bit insular in your focus. So having that independent and balanced perspective provided by the judges was great because it really made us think about what we are doing.”

Kate says the judging process was enjoyable, with the judges providing a broad range of experience and expertise and offering feedback that generated discussion among the family members and “spurred us into action on a few things”.

“We are well aware of the fact that we are a High Country Station in an area of significant interest, but our involvement in the competition really brought home the importance of recording and monitoring what we are doing.”

The judges also provided confirmation the Butsons were doing their best to preserve the environment while ensuring the business remained profitable.

Kate says attending the Supreme winners field day and mixing with other entrants at the awards evening was another high point “because it showed us there were a lot of other people out there trying to do the same things we are”.

She says the family aims to implement some of the ideas thrown up by the judges and other entrants “and we would certainly like to re-enter the competition again in future”.

Entries for the 2009 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on October 1, 2008.

For information on entering the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Rhys Millar, Regional Otago Regional Coordinator, 027 387 7866 or email

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