Northland dairy farmers Craig and Suzanne Johnsen met some “awesome people” during their involvement with the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
The Johnsens milk 260 cows on 94ha (87ha effective) at Okaihau, with a 38ha run-off nearby. They entered the Awards for the first time last year because they wanted to showcase their attractive and productive family farm in the Bay of Islands.
The property’s location on a busy corner of the Okaihau plateau gives it a high profile, but the couple do whatever they can to demonstrate that they are responsible when it comes to sustainability.
“We do everything by the book and we take our environmental footprint very seriously.”
Craig says entering the 2016 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards allowed them to highlight the work they were doing to the wider community. The judging process also provided them with a valuable opportunity to benchmark their operation against other dairy businesses and find out what they could do in future to make further improvements.
Sue says the experience was inspirational and they enjoyed mixing with the other entrants.
“We met some awesome people.”
And the judges were very impressed with their operation, awarding the Johnsens two category awards, including the LIC Dairy Farm Award which recognises the important role that herd improvement plays in a sustainable farming business.
Judges praised the couple’s best-standard record-keeping and their comprehensive health records. “Herd reproductive performance is excellent and the herd BW is in the top 10% nationally,” judges said.
Craig and Sue say the LIC Dairy Farm Award was a welcome recognition of the hard work they have put into their herd genetics.
“We are in the process of changing breed to a crossbred herd and believe this has benefited the farm and also increased profitability.”
They take great pride in the health of their herd because “happy cows equal happy farmers”.
Craig and Sue say they would certainly encourage other farmers to enter the Awards “because there is always something to learn and improve on the farm”.
Entries for the 2017 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on 31 October 2016. It costs nothing to enter and 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