Farmers head to town for environment awards

07:33, Apr 10 2013

Hundreds of farmers and industry representatives have gathered at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill tonight for the 2013 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards dinner.

The annual competition showcases the sustainability of economically viable farms from nine regions across New Zealand and celebrates the marriage between sustainability and profitability.

Last year's prestigious supreme award winners were Opio farmers Michael and Karen Blomfield.

The awards' supreme winners field day will be held on Tuesday, April 30.

Times' rural reporter Terri Russell is at the awards tonight. Follow her on twitter at #SouthlandTimes.

The finalists are:

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Otapiri Gorge sheep and beef farmers Dan and Brett Frew are a part of three generations of Frews working on the family farm.

Judges said the family worked together well and the productivity and health of the livestock were central to the farm's profitability.

Equity managers Chris and Lynsey Stratford, near Curio Bay, are partners in South Coast Dairy Ltd and are in their third season since converting to dairy.

Judges said they were clearly motivated to make their 202-hectare property a successful and sustainable operation.

Blackmount sheep and beef farmers Peter and Nicky Baker have planted shelter and been fencing riverbanks and natural waterways for more than 20 years. Their farm has 20ha of forestry established.

Judges said the Bakers were profit-driven farmers with a high lambing percentage and low-cost structure.

Hokonui sheep farmers Dave and Jan Riddell both come from scientific backgrounds, grew up on farms and had the ambition to go into sheep farming. Judges said they had an abundance of energy and enthusiasm, along with a clear long-term vision for their land and business.

At Heddon Bush, near Winton, dairy farmers Abe and Anita de Wolde oversee a dairying business milking about 2800 cows.

Judges said the couple were committed to their production goals, but were just as committed to reducing their environmental footprint.

At Kilbrannan, near Te Anau, sheep and beef farmers Paul and Tracey Ruddenklau manage a 358ha property and oversaw a conversion to organic between 2005 and 2008.

Judges said to manage a property under an organic regime while remaining profitable and servicing debt was outstanding.

The Southland Times