Entering the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great challenge for Opunake dairy farmers Kenneth and Rachel Short.
The equity partners and sharemilkers milk 443 cows on 180ha and are in the process of converting to a fully organic operation.
They first entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2014 and were happy to win a category award. They entered the Awards again this year and won three categories, including the CB Norwood Ltd Agri-Business Management Award, which recognises the approach that farmers take to accomplish the important management practices of operating a successful farm business.
BFEA judges praised Kenneth and Rachel’s excellent use of agri-business professionals and their in-depth knowledge of business management and strategy.
Rachel says good business management is very important to them.
“We are always trying to fine-tune our system. And with the payout at the current level, it’s even more crucial to constantly review what is happening inside the farm gate.”
She says being involved in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was an important part of the planning process “because it made us sit down together and take a good hard look at what we had done and what we are trying to achieve”.
The judging panel offered a broad range of experience and expertise, and the judging process was conducted in a relaxed and friendly manner.
“I used to get very nervous about these things, but the judges are just normal everyday people who are there to help you.
“It was definitely worthwhile having those judges come onto the farm and provide us with an outside perspective of our business. Some of their ideas were very useful and we enjoyed their feedback.”
Rachel says they are now in the process of making changes to their farm system to meet requirements of organic certification.
“We’ve had to look pretty hard at our fertiliser policy and how we manage weeds.”
She says she and Kenneth would certainly like to re-enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards again in future.
“I’d recommend it to anyone. The Awards are a really good way to challenge yourself and learn more about how to improve your operation.”
Entries for the 2017 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on September 30, 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