Wednesday, 29 May 2024 11:55

Cultivating a legacy of sustainable production

Written by  Wade Bell
‘Feed for Thought’ podcast hosts Matt Dalley and Wade Bell. ‘Feed for Thought’ podcast hosts Matt Dalley and Wade Bell.

When tradition meets innovation, the result can be a powerful transformation, not just for an individual farm, but for the entire agricultural industry.

Adrian and Paula Ball's farm in Tirau, South Waikato, embodies this transformation, having evolved from traditional cattle grazing to a model of dairy excellence and environmental stewardship.

On our recent 'Feed for Thought' podcast, Matt Dalley and I sat down with Adrian Ball to explore the layers of change that have shaped the family farming business and discuss implications for the future of sustainable agriculture.

The loss Adrian's father brought about a profound shift in the farm's trajectory, leading to a conversion to dairy that would late earn industry recognition. However, what truly sets the Ball's operation apart is the unwaverin commitment to sustainability. Their innovative farming practices, such as the integration of homegrown forage and beef production, are a testament to the fact that environmental care, animal welfare, and staff well-being are integral to a farm's success. By emphaising these values, the farm has not only maintained profitability but has also become a beacon of sustainability.

One aspect of the Ball's approach is the focus on carbon reduction strategies. The integration of dairy-derived beef is particularly noteworthy, as it provides a means to produce high-quality beef with a significantly lower carbon footprint. The Ball's efforts demonstrate the potential for dairy farms to contribute to a more sustainable beef industry.

Looking to the horizon, Adrian sheds light on the future of sustainable agriculture, discussing the exciting potential of zero carbon beef and the role of sequestration on farms. An interesting fact Adrian mentioned is that 85% of a beef cow’s emissions are associated with its calf compared to only 15% for a dairy cow. Unfortunately, the beef industry doesn’t have a lot of confidence in calves produced by the dairy industry, but Adrian is working hard to produce an animal that adds value. The conversation delves into the balance between quality and volume, the need for smaller farms to create value, and the trends in global sustainability that are shifting consumer expectations.

Through this conversation, Adrian illustrates how the agricultural industry can adapt to meet the challenges of the future while continuing to provide high-quality products.

The podcast also explores the concept of industry succession and the importance of nature-positive narratives. These ideas are essential for framing the future of farming, where the focus on quality over quantity is expected to shape market dynamics. By fostering a quality-driven approach, Adrian’s vision for the industry champions the welfare of our planet as a core principle of agricultural success.

To listen to the discussion on how Adrian Ball is cultivating the legacy of sustainable dairy and beef production, search Feed for Thought on all major podcast platforms.

Wade Bell is Genetic Technologies farm systems manager. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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