Orchard's 'vision' takes top award

An industry-leading Central Otago orchard has won the supreme title in the 2014 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

Wayne McIntosh, manager of Earnscleugh-based McIntosh Orchard, received the award in front of 180 people at the Lake Wanaka Centre on Friday night.

He also collected four merit awards - the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

BFEA judges said the 64 hectare pip and stonefruit operation was a top-producing orchard with a vision and strategy that promoted the Otago region.

The family-owned orchard, between Alexandra and Clyde, has about 34,000 trees and produces cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, apples and a range of trial fruits.

McIntosh has been running the business for 10 years in partnership with his parents Stuart and Sharyn McIntosh.

The orchard has eight fulltime staff and employs about 46 more during season peaks.

It currently supplies 4 to 5 per cent of the peaches and nectarines sold domestically each year.

The orchard also has a small packhouse in which cherries, which account for about 40 per cent of income, are hand-sorted and sized while still in bunches.

The BFEA judges said effective risk management was a key feature of the business, with climate, market, social, business and labour risks all carefully managed.

All fruit trees are irrigated and the orchard is gradually changing to an under-tree system for more efficient watering.

A field day will be held at McIntosh Orchard on May 14.

2014 Otago Ballance farm environment awards results: Supreme Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, Massey University Innovation Award and WaterForce Integrated Management Award; Wayne McIntosh, McIntosh Orchard Ltd, Earnscleugh. Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award; Craig and Emma Lister, Elliotvale Farm Ltd, Milton. Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award, Meridian Energy Excellence Award and Alliance Quality Livestock Award; David and Sarah Smith, Mt Watkins Ltd, Waikouaiti. LIC Dairy Farm Award, PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award, Otago Regional Council Water Quality Award; Suzie and Brendon Bearman, Kilkenny Farm, Milton.

The Southland Times