Entering the Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards gave Patumahoe dairy farmers Brian and Pirkko Gallagher a chance to showcase some of the good work they’d been doing on their farm.
“We’d only recently finished installing our new effluent system and so we were keen to show that off to the judges and see what they thought of it,” Brian says.
The Gallaghers also wanted to acknowledge the support of Auckland Regional Council, which provided assistance for the planting of trees and shrubs around the five-million litre pond.
Brian says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) offered a valuable outside perspective of their farming operation.
“We have a board of directors and we seek lots of professional advice, so we like to think we are always doing things right. But opening up the business to outside scrutiny from the expert judges helped confirm we were on the right track.”
He says the judging process was enjoyable, conversational and thought-provoking.
“It was a very professional and very well-run programme.”
On Awards night, the Gallaghers were “staggered” to win four category awards, including the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award. Judges praised the couple’s understanding of the impacts of farming on soils, noting the “excellent use and management of all nutrient applications to maximise efficiency and minimise environmental risk”.
Brian says winning the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award came as a pleasant surprise and was a great endorsement of their soil management policy.
But while he and Pirkko were thrilled to win so many category awards, it was not their key reason for entering the BFEA. They have always taken great pride in the farm and their industry and believe it is important to do their bit to promote good environmental management. They open up their farm to a stream of visitors, with over 2800 Auckland school children passing through the gate last year.
“We enjoy hosting visitors and it’s a great opportunity for us to show people from the urban community that it’s possible to run a profitable dairy business while at the same time taking care of the environment.”
Brian says he was impressed with the standard of the other finalists in the Auckland BFEA.
“It was great to chat with the others involved in the Awards. We got a lot out of the experience and I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s not just about planting trees; it’s also about how you run your business and what you do in your community.”
Brian says he would definitely recommend the Awards to farmers and horticulturists who are in the early stages of their farming journey because they can learn so much from it.
“Be bold and be ambitious, and give it a go.”
Entries for the 2017 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on 31 October 2016. Entry forms are available online at www.nzfeatrust.org.nz
For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, phone 07 834 0400, email or visit www.nzfeatrust.org.nz