On-farm irrigation technology has evolved at a fast pace over the last two decades and farmers have both adopted and evolved with it and have helped it evolve, according to WaterForce.
They are Ben and Anna Gillespie (Central Otago), Brock & Gemma Hamilton (North Otago), Ted Rollinson (Mid-Canterbury), Nick Webster (North Otago).
The awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainable irrigation and encourage Australian and New Zealand farmers to share ideas for achieving sustainable freshwater management.
Each entrant was judged on: sustainable irrigation management; irrigation-driven improvements, which may include cost reductions, environmental outcomes, yield improvements and/or improved efficiencies; waterway protection; stewardship/community.
Irrigation NZ chair and Irricon Resource Solutions principal, Keri Johnston, is head judge for the awards. She says all four finalists demonstrated a high level of achievement across all four categories, which set them apart from the others.
“Our finalists all have farm businesses with values and philosophies based on environmental stewardship, care of the land, water and community, and being caretakers for the next generation.
“These finalists also demonstrated a level of considered decision-making in relation to irrigation system design.
“They are all using technology to their advantage, while taking steps to maximise efficiency and minimise environmental impacts.
“It was obvious these farmers have a deep understanding of their properties and their unique challenges. They have used clever thinking and an innovative approach to tackle these challenges, rather than just trying to tick the box.
“From supporting their peers to helping with education in schools, we were also impressed by the outstanding community leadership demonstrated by some of our finalists.”
Johnston says while only four NZ farmers were chosen as finalists, all entrants should be commended for their commitment to responsible water management both on and off the farm.
Awards coordinator Sarah Elliot says the judges were impressed by the standard of entries and effort that went into many of the submissions.
On-farm judging will take place in the spring before the supreme winner is announced.
The competition is run by agricultural irrigation systems leader, Zimmatic, with support from New Zealand Awards partners IrrigationNZ, Vantage NZ and Irricon.