Parkhill Dairy Farm at Ashley Clinton has won the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards -entered by owner Andrea Barry and manager Craig Pennell. The win was announced at an awards dinner at the Napier Conference Centre on Wednesday night (March 28). They will host a field day in April.
Parkhill was one of the first three dairy farms converted by Andrea and her late husband Peter Barry in 1994. Andrea Barry is proud of the work that has been done and is still being done on Parkhill. “When you go to the top of the hill and look over the land, it’s amazing how it has changed in 23 years,” she says. “It’s a beautiful property that deserves to be showcased. I’m ready to show it off. We haven’t entered environmental awards in the past because of people’s perceptions of dairy. Here’s our chance to change that.”
The Barrys bought Parkill at Ashley Clinton through an equity company called Longrow Pastoral Ltd. They bought the company in 2000 changing the name to Longrow Dairies Ltd then bought Barry Farms in 1996 and Ashton in 1998 (as part of Epic Agriculture). The three different entities were combined into one operating unit in 2000 – BEL Group is made up of Barry Farms, Epic and Longrow. It employs 65 staff working on 2600ha of milking platform and leased dairy support land.
“It’s a credit to Andrea and Peter for their vision at the start and we are carrying on that passion,” Craig says. He has managed Parkhill for three years with the help of a herd manager and two assistants with casual extras at busy times. A former Fonterra Networker, Craig has previously been sharemilking in Southland and Bay of Plenty and contract milking in Waikato, but this is his first position with a corporate enterprise. “There are lot of opportunities here to make a difference. I love sharing my knowledge and experience with others still coming through.”
Parkhill peak milks 880 predominantly-Friesian cows from a 268ha milking platform. Total production last season was 177,076kg of milksolids from 770 cows on 220ha (809kgMS/ha). To date, the farm is on track to surpass its target of 275,000kg MS (1026kgMS/ha). A history of being grade free is a testament to the team’s attention to detail around milking procedure and hygiene, as well as herd health, the awards judges said.
Record keeping is done on the computer daily including rainfall, soil temperature, effluent application rates, samples taken for nitrates and any maintenance done. They also use the Fonterra diary for animal treatments, plant cleaning and checks, water usage and milk quality compliance such as vat temperatures.
Parkhill runs a pasture-based grazing system with approximately 500kg tonne of dry matter bought as pasture and maize silage. About 20ha of turnips is used for feeding in January/February. Effluent is spread via a travelling irrigator across a quarter of the farm. An annual nutrient budget with nitrogen fertiliser used to support pasture production. The judges said BEL Group was aware of the requirement to meet nitrogen leaching limits under the Tukituki Catchment Plan Change by May 2020. “As part of their Sustainable Milk Plan, BEL Group is using OVERSEER to test scenarios and determine the best way to remain compliant. They are working with the council proactively in this space.” Native, blue gum and pine trees were planted in critical source areas when the farm was first converted. The farm has extensive shelter belts and some fenced wetlands.
Stock is excluded from relevant waterways and a Fonterra riparian management plan has been completed. Temporary fences are used to keep stock out of ephemeral waterways. Cropping is avoided on rolling topography and minimal tillage is used where possible, Craig says. A programme called Farm Tune is used to minimise waste across the business. Being part of BEL Group means there is plenty of community involvement and sponsorship of organisations and events, as well as opportunities for staff interaction with a development programme, manager meetings, monthly staff BBQs and an annual awards evening.
As well as being named the regional supreme winners, Andrea and Craig and the team at Parkhill Dairy Farm won the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, CB Norwood Distributors Ltd Agri-Business Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award.
BEL Group had a good showing at the Awards evening with another finalist, Andrea’s son Robert and daughter in law Alison, winning the Predator Free New Zealand Award. Robert is 2IC at Barry Farms, which operates two dairy farms called Hedley and Ellingham, also at Ashley Clinton. The two BEL Group entries also shared the Dairy NZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award.
Richard and Hannah Coop from Okepuha Station, Mahia, won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award and the East Coast Farming for the Future Award (as sponsored by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Gisborne District Council). The WaterForce Integrated Management Award was won by Steve Treseder, who manages a Waipukurau sheep and beef farm for Nisbett Taumata Estate Ltd.
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards