Otago farmer Marty Deans entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because he wanted to benchmark the operation he manages and learn more about improving sustainability.
He and wife Lynette live on Barewood Station, a 6300ha sheep and beef property between Middlemarch and Outram. Barewood is one of eight farms owned and operated by Tom and Heather Sturgess, Lone Star Farms.
Marty was encouraged to enter Barewood in the 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
“I’m not normally the type to enter competitions, but I could see the benefits of being involved with this one. It was a very good process and I learnt a lot from it. You get to meet a range of like-minded people and you make some great contacts in the industry.”
On Awards evening, Barewood Station received two category awards, including the CB Norwood Distributors Ltd Agri-Business Management Award.
Judges said the Station’s farming systems were continually evolving to meet the difficulties of farming in a harsh environment while still achieving above average production. Management decisions were optimised through comprehensive measuring, monitoring and the analysis of farm performance, they said.
Marty says he was “pretty chuffed” by the win, even though that wasn’t a key reason for entering.
“I went in for the knowledge I could gain from the judges and the other entrants, but getting those awards was a real bonus.”
Marty was impressed with the calibre of the judges and the professionalism of the report he received after the judging process.
“We had eight different judges come onto the farm on two different occasions and they asked totally different questions. But it wasn’t a scary process, more like a general chat over a cup of tea. The feedback they gave was excellent and one of the best things was that I was able to ask them questions as well. The advice in the report was very useful and the whole thing makes you take a good hard look at what you are doing to improve sustainability.”
Marty says he was surprised at the number of people he met who had entered the Awards two or three times.
“It’s clear that they were taking the free advice of the judges on board and using it to improve their operations. So I’ll have another go in future too.”
Marty’s suggestion to anyone considering entering the Awards is to take a quick look at the entry form and find out what is required.
“Then you’ll realise it’s not that scary at all. The hardest part is ticking the boxes: the rest is very enjoyable and highly educational. It’s a great experience and I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Entries for the 2017 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on October 31, 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