Friday, 15 March 2024 15:55

Stewart Dairylands takes out Regional Supreme Award

Written by  Staff Reporters
From Left: Dave, Jan, James, and Debbie Stewart. From Left: Dave, Jan, James, and Debbie Stewart.

James, Debbie, Dave and Jan Stewart, the driving force behind Hiwinui’s Stewart Dairylands, have taken out the Regional Supreme Award at the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The farm is the dairy division of the Stewart Group, home to 800 cows across 580 hectares (560ha effective).

Stewart Dairylands was established in 1999, however five generations of Stewarts have farmed and expanded the legacy business that was started in 1886.

Guided by a strong sense of family history, the Stewarts see the land as a precious commodity and therefore focus on creating sustainable systems to leave the land in better shape for the next generation.

Exploring opportunities for diversification is part of the business strategy for the entrepreneurial family, with value streams from dairy beef, as well as supplying milk for both boutique cheese and ice cream. In partnership, they also offer farm tours.

Native plantings enhance the natural environment, including the development of native corridors with walkways and a wetland area – all of which are shared with visitors and the wider community.

The judges say they were impressed with well-planned infrastructure developments, including a new dairy shed with solar panels, and a modern effluent system with a separator.

They noted that the Stewarts continuously seek improvement and innovation in stock management, infrastructure and technology.

The family was commended for being highly engaged in the wider farming industry, and taking a proactive approach to address and embrace challenges.

In awarding the Regional Supreme Award, the judges made the observation that, on many properties, landowners are meeting high standards, but on this property the Stewarts strive to exceed and lead industry standards.

The awards also served to showcase local catchment group Pohangina Catchment Care Group, which encompasses communities across the Pohangina Valley and includes farmers, iwi, lifestyle block owners and Pohangina village residents.

Formed in 2020, the group is a subset of the Manawatu River Catchments Collective and has set its sights on nurturing the valley’s water, people and land.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are run by the NZ Farm Environment Trust and champion sustainable farming and growing.

The Supreme Winner from each of the eleven regions involved in the awards will go through to be considered for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at the Trust’s National Showcase in Hamilton in June. The recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy then become 2024’s National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

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