Region's best geared up for awards

From high country deer farmers to high producing dairy farmers.

Most of the farming sectors are well represented in the 2014 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards which will be held at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on Thursday night.

Southland regional co-ordinator Helen van der Linden said the six finalists were all top producing farmers who encompassed the three Ps - Profit, Planet (looking after the environment) and People.

The finalists are Fairlight Station equity managers Simon and Louise Wright; Tuatapere lamb finishers Roger and Alison Thomas; Otautau sheep farmers Ken and Jocelyn Taylor; Nithdale Station owners Andrew and Heather Tripp; Mandeville sheep and beef farming brothers Cameron and Robert Grant and Gorge Rd dairy farmers Mark and Deborah Hamill.

Van der Linden said the finalists, which had been reduced from 11 entrants, had all gone through a rigorous on-farm judging process.

"It's not just about their business or environmental footprint.

"It's how all the three things (profit, planet and people) come together," she said.

Van der Linden said about 300 people were expected to attend the awards dinner where 10 regional awards would be presented and the supreme winner of the 2014 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards would be announced.

"Every one of the finalists has plenty to be proud of.

"We congratulate those who have put themselves forward and into the spotlight," van der Linden said.

The 2014 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards finalists:

Simon and Louise Wright are equity managers in Fairlight Station in Northern Southland.

The property has undergone a massive transformation since changing ownership in 2003.

Part of it has been used for forestry in conjunction with Cairnard Station next door.

The remaining 1800 hectares has been developed into a 1600ha effective deer, sheep and cattle unit.

About 3600 deer, 2300 sheep and 600 beef cattle are wintered.

Fairlight is situated halfway between Queenstown and Lumsden.

About 400ha is flat, the rest medium to steep hill country.

The development has included deer fencing 90 per cent of the property and fencing to protect natural features such as beech trees and the Mataura River.





Andrew and Heather Tripp farm the 17,000 stock unit property Nithdale Station at Kaiwera, south east of Gore.

They oversee a diverse operation including an 834 cow dairy unit, 42ha of forestry, a farmstay, beef, sheep and their combined Romney and Suffolk sheep stud Nithdale Genetics.

Six years ago 150 rams were sold and last year 500 were sold; the market clearly likes the direction of Nithdale Genetics.

Andrew points out what has happened on their place mirrors that in the industry.

"Sheep are getting pushed into the hills and the industry needs easy care; top performance with low inputs."

The station area totals 1478ha and there is an adjacent 157ha lease block.

The dairy platform has rolling contour and the rest of the farmed area is flat to rolling to medium hill.




Cameron and Robert Grant farm a combined 27,000 sheep and beef stock units at Mandeville and the OtapiriGorge.

The partnership spreads over a total 2997 hectares and they have just bought another 907ha property further west.

The Grants farm Wairere sheep and an Angus Hereford breeding cow herd which is achieving above average performance.

The sheep to cattle ratio is 60 to 40.

The Grants operate an intensive winter-feed cropping programme using about 280ha annually.

Crops grown include swede, kale, and fodder beet and this cropping is integrated with their pasture renewal rotation.

The winter feeding regime includes five pads set up for self-fed pit silage, made from both cereal and grass.

Not all silage is used up each winter.

"It's our drought-proofing, " explains Robert.

The partnership has four tractors and all equipment required for cropping, spraying and for much of the development work.

Ken and Jocelyn Taylor's sheep breeding, finishing and dairy grazing unit is 143 hectares of family land at Ringway, between Otautau and Fairfax.

On their 135 effective hectares they winter about 1100 composite textra ewes and 370 hoggets, and graze 60 dairy heifers from a neighbouring farm.

Lambing percentage is consistently about 150 per cent at tailing.

The farm is in the northern foothills of the Longwoods range; the front two-thirds of the property is flat to rolling and the back third is medium hill with some rocky, steep sidlings, some of which are used for woodlots.

Ken grew up on part of the property and he and Joss began farming together on a smaller neighbouring property in 1979.







Roger and Alison Thomas winter about 2200 perendale texel cross ewes and 570 hoggets and finish about 2800of their own lambs annually on their 263-hectare Western Southland farm.

They also finish lambs through Silver Fern Farms' pay-per-kilogram- gained plan.

Contour is mostly rolling and the steep areas have been fenced off. When they arrived on the property, they started fencing and protecting bush remnants and riperian areas.

Planting has been extensive and undertaken by the family including now-adult children Sam, Louise and Jeremy.

A QE11 National Trust covenant has been placed over a 3.5ha area of remnant and regenerating native bush with a good diversity of plants.







Mark and Deborah Hamill converted Folly Farm - Tiro Road Ltd and Hamill Family Trust - to dairy in 2008.

There have been Hamills on their original 301 hectare Gorge Rd property since 1888.

The Mataura River runs along the eastern boundary of the property and the southern ocean is visible from the farm.

This season 803 cows were peak milked and production from the flat to rolling 256 hectare milking platform is on target for 1428 kilograms of milksolids per hectare.

The transition from sheep to dairy in 2008 was "a steep learning curve" but smooth.

Mark attributes much of this to their long-time farm consultant, Ivan Lines, and the manager they employed that first year, Zimbabwean Marc Makoni.

After a year Marc and Doreen Makoni progressed to contract milking and for the last three seasons they have been lower-order sharemilking.

The Southland Times