Saturday, 02 April 2016 15:55

Winners show how well it can be done

Written by 
Joe and Suz Wyborn. Joe and Suz Wyborn.

Geraldines sharemilkers Joe and Suz Wyborn are the supreme winners of the 2016 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

They also collected a string of category awards, including the WaterForce Integrated Management Award, LIC Dairy Farm Award, Massey University Innovation Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award and the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award.

Described by BFEA judges as representing "everything that is positive about the New Zealand dairy industry," the Wyborns have been 50:50 sharemilking on Grantlea Dairy No 1 – a 253ha irrigated property east of Geraldine – since it was converted by owners Leighton and Michelle Pye in 2009.

The Wyborns had been dairy farming together for only three years when they started on Grantlea, but the Pyes' confidence in the couple had been fully justified, BFEA judges said.

While each partner has defined roles – Joe oversees day-to-day operation of the farm and Suz is in charge of calf rearing and finance – the Wyborns work as a team and their prudent financial management and strong production have helped them build their business remarkably quickly.

"They are extremely focused on developing and articulating processes and systems that allow the farm to run efficiently," judges said.

Up to 910 cows were milked on the 220ha (effective) farm last season, producing 411,000kgMS using a system 3 regime. Driving this is sound pasture management and efficient use of water.

Two centre-pivot irrigators service all but 4.5ha of the farm. A lot of vegetation was removed during the conversion but the Wyborns and Pyes worked hard to mitigate this loss by shelter planting.

Originally from England, Joe first worked for the Pyes in 1998 as a driver in their agricultural contracting business. In 1999 he took over management of the contracting operation and this experience has helped shape how he and Suz now run the farm.

Judges said the Wyborns demonstrate excellent staff and people management skills. Health and safety is a priority, and a detailed farm operating manual allows staff to run the farm "safely and effectively unsupervised".

Judges also noted the couple's "outstanding adoption of technology and web-based tools to assist in farm management".

"They monitor and measure, but most importantly they make full use of data in their decisions."

Judges also praised the Wyborns' industry and community involvement.

A BFEA supreme-winner field day will be held on Grantlea Dairy No 1 later.

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