Greg and Claire Collins of Emerald Hills


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2024 Northland Finalists: Greg and Claire Collins of Emerald Hills – Dairy

Strategic planning, being adaptable and thinking outside the box are three reasons this small Dargaville dairy farm is both profitable and environmentally friendly.    
Greg and Claire Collins bought the 80ha (60ha effective) property in 2014​ and moved on site to run it 12 months later.  
Guided by long-term planning, they often do things a bit differently to achieve targets. All activities are built on a foundation of socially acceptable, sustainable, and ethical practices.  
Milk accounts for almost 85% of income, with the balance derived from calf rearing and an artificial breeding run. The couple’s approach has resulted in steadily increasing production and profits from healthy animals that are being raised in a beautiful environment. 
There’s been a strong focus on reducing debt quickly, freeing up money for capital investment. At the same time, Claire and Greg are striving to improve environmental outcomes and have formed relationships with several funding organisations. 
A focus on appropriate land use has resulted in significant areas of the farm being protected and encouraged to regenerate by planting native species. 
Sediment traps help to control erosion and effluent is carefully managed. The team has a good understanding of the farm’s greenhouse gas drivers and are constantly seeking to reduce its environmental footprint plus adapt to the changing climate – for example by using alternative pastures.  
Innovation also applies to their relationships with people, animals and the land. Once-a-day milking frees up time for other activities, while reconfiguring paddocks has facilitated better grazing with less effort. The team also demonstrates clever recycling practices. 
Greg and Claire are devoted to this property, carrying out most of the work themselves. The couple is well connected to the wider community, with Greg particularly involved with the dairy industry. 

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