Webber Family Farm, owned and operated by Ross and Eleanore Webber, was announced the Regional Supreme Winner at this evening’s 2019 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards champion sustainable farming and growing through an awards programme which sees one Regional Supreme Winner selected from each of the 11 regions involved. These Regional Supreme Winners will be profiled at the Awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton, on Thursday 6 June, with each in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.
Webber Family Farm is the Regional Supreme Winner thanks to the family’s hard work and their impressive environmental aspirations. The farm overlooks the Kaipara Harbour, the receiving catchment for all the waterways on the farm. Environmental initiatives include, but are not limited to, protecting waterways and existing native bush blocks; conversion of pine blocks into native bush areas; enhancing natural native tree seed dispersal by birds through planting appropriate trees in specific places to encourage bird life; and continuing to eco-source plants suitable to a challenging natural environment.
The Webbers have traditionally farmed a variety of beef as well as farming deer and mohair goats. They are currently working on establishing Angus-only stock and are particular as to the origin of their breeding bulls and cows.
The farm winters about 149 breeding cows – mostly Angus, equating to 8.8 stock units per hectare, which is in line with local stocking rates. The farm sells most of its weaners in the autumn, keeping approximately 20 to 25 replacements. The team also tries to finish 25 R2 steers each year depending on the season.
The judges said of the Webbers’ achievements: “The Webbers are great ambassadors for the region embodying everything the Ballance Farm Environment Awards stand for.”
Having been married for nearly four decades, supporting each other on their amazing journey, Eleanore was the one who encouraged Ross to enter the awards.
Eleanore says: “I put his name forward, I could see all of the work he had done. He can see the future for the farm and the environmental side of it. We have raised our three boys here and are very connected to our land and feel fortunate to have what we have.”
Ross adds: “I’m not quite there in terms of what I want to achieve, but I’m so close, and we do have a lovely farm. We are excited to give this a crack.”
This year, the Webbers are not only the Regional Supreme Winner in Auckland but also the esteemed recipient of the:
Predator Free NZ Trust Predator Free Farm Award – this recognises the efforts of land managers to successfully control animal predators to achieve native biodiversity outcomes;
WaterForce Integrated Management Award – this recognises the farmer or grower demonstrating wise water practices;
Auckland BFEA Farm Stewardship Award – this award is for the creation of special places on farm and may include protection and/or enhancement of cultural, historic, or unique natural or manmade features.
Each year, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ ceremonies, the National Sustainability Showcase, and winners’ field days offer a unique, pan-sector forum for networking and the sharing of ideas and information among farming/growers’ peers, agribusiness professionals and the wider community.