Entrepreneurial dairy farmers James & Debbie, and Dave & Jan Stewart of Stewart Dairylands take out the Regional Supreme Award at the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.


Home / News / Award News / Entrepreneurial dairy farmers James & Debbie, and Dave & Jan Stewart of Stewart Dairylands take out the Regional Supreme Award at the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

James, Debbie, Dave and Jan Stewart are the driving force behind Stewart Dairylands in Hiwinui, which is one of three companies in the Stewart Group. Their farm is the dairy division, with 800 cows across 580ha (560ha effective).

Stewart Dairylands was established in 1999, however five generations of Stewarts have farmed and expanded the legacy business that was started in 1886. Guided by a strong sense of family history, the Stewarts see the land as a precious commodity that the family should continue treating carefully so it’s in a better shape for the next generation.

Exploring opportunities for diversification is part of the business strategy for the entrepreneurial family, with value streams from dairy beef, as well as supplying milk for both boutique cheese and ice cream. In partnership, they also offer farm tours.

Native plantings enhance the natural environment, including the development of native corridors with walkways and a wetland area – all of which are shared with visitors and the wider community.

The judges were impressed with well-planned infrastructure developments, including a new dairy shed with solar panels, and a modern effluent system with a separator. They noted that the Stewarts continuously seek improvement and innovation in stock management, infrastructure and technology. The family was commended for being highly engaged in the wider farming industry, and taking a proactive approach to address and embrace challenges.

In awarding the Regional Supreme Award, the judges made the observation that on many properties landowners are meeting high standards; but on this property the Stewarts strive to exceed and lead industry standards. They place the utmost importance on succession planning and governance in their business and farm, and have adopted a long-term approach, looking ahead not just to the next 10 or 20 years but the next 100 years.

James, Debbie, Dave and Jan Stewart also won the following awards:

· Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award

· DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award

· Rabobank Agri-Business Management Award

· NZFET Biodiversity Award

· NZFET Innovation Award

· NZFET Climate Recognition Award

· Margaret Matthews Trophy for Commitment to Sustainability

Other Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Award winners include:

Mark Chrystall, Richard Chrystall and Rob Collier — Spring Farms, Moawhango

· Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award

· Hill Labs Agri-Science Award

Hugh & Noelene Donald — Toa Toa Farming, Kakatahi

· Horizons Regional Council Award for the Integration of Trees

Peter & Ally Apthorp and Nathan Ebbett — Springview Agriculture, Mangahao & MakoMako

· Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award

· Norwood Farming Efficiency Award

The awards also served to showcase local catchment group Pohangina Catchment Care Group, which encompasses communities across the Pohangina Valley and includes farmers, iwi, lifestyle block owners and Pohangina village residents. Formed in 2020, the group is a subset of the Manawatu River Catchments Collective. The catchment group has its sights set on nurturing the valley’s water, people and land – and supports each of these aspects in different ways.

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 in Hamilton in June. The recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy then become 2024’s National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

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