Regional Supreme Winners 2023: Jacques and Vanessa Le Prou of Java Farm – Dairy
Taking on two rundown dairy farms and combining them into one sustainable unit has been a rewarding challenge for farmers Jacques and Vanessa Le Prou.
They bought what is now known as Java Farm 10 years ago. For the first two years, they employed sharemilkers before merging the properties and running it as one unit.
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.
Jacques and Vanessa entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards as a way of getting new ideas to further develop farming systems across the 165ha (145ha effective) property. It also gave them an opportunity to reflect back on what they have achieved over the past decade.
Two key factors have helped them turn the farm around – a focus on breedinghigher-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, while there’s also been investment in long-term infrastructure to keep up-to-date with compliance rules. 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.
Jacques and Vanessa are the winners of the 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, and Taranaki Regional Supreme Winner 2023.
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards