Jacques and Vanessa Le Prou of Java Farm have been announced as the Regional Supreme Award winners at the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards in New Plymouth this evening.
The Le Prous are striving for a sustainable farming operation that is profitable while also providing them with the time to raise their four young children. To achieve this, they are guided by a clear vision that is based on analysing the business and setting environmental, business and family goals.
They bought what is now known as Java Farm 10 years ago, and have risen to the challenge of taking on two rundown dairy farms and combining them into one sustainable unit. For the first two years, they employed sharemilkers before merging the properties.
Two key factors have helped them turn the farm around – a focus on breeding higher-quality cows, and an extensive re-grassing programme that has boosted production.
Originally, the pastures were between 25 and 100 years old and full of weeds. By pasture renewal, the animals now enjoy lush, nutritious grass, complemented by modern effluent and water systems. Cow health and heat detection are monitored via collars, enabling the Le Prous to access real-time results anywhere there is internet access.
Crop rotation helps to support soil health, and investment in long-term infrastructure ensures they keep up to date with compliance rules and enables flexibility and resilience within their operation. Streams and wetlands have been fenced, and riparian planting is in place, with good setbacks.
Family is central to life at Java Farm, with the children actively involved in predator control and the monitoring of waterway biodiversity. By teaching their children the benefits of protecting and nurturing native areas and waterways, Jacques and Vanessa are helping to ensure the land will be cared for by future generations.
In awarding the Regional Supreme Award, the judges commended the Le Prous on their cohesive, profitable and efficient dairy system that showcases good management practice, and noted their strong focus on family and community and open-minded approach to new opportunities.
Jacques and Vanessa Le Prou also won the following awards:
Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award
Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award
DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award
Norwood Farming Efficiency Award
Rabobank Agri-Business Management Award
Taranaki Regional Council Sustainability Award
Other Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Award winners include:
Richard & Jenni Brewer and William & Lisa Brewer — Brewer Farms
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award
Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award
Murray & Kaye Jackson and Cruise & Sarah Hamilton — Te Kupe Station
NZFET Biodiversity Award
Tony Gane, Peter & Carol Gane, Charlie & Anna Smith — Gane and Sons
NZFET Innovation Award
The awards also served to showcase Taranaki Catchment Communities Inc, which operates 14 local catchment groups and is working to guide the region’s rural sector towards a future that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
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 at Te Papa in May. The recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy then become 2023’s National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.