Sunday, 11 October 2015 12:00

More to competition than winning

Written by 
Allan and Leeann Woodrow. Allan and Leeann Woodrow.

Allan and Leeann Woodrow say winning is not the reason to enter farm environment competitions.

The Woodrows first entered Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards last year. The owners of a 496ha sheep and beef farm in Waikana Valley, east of Mataura, enjoyed their experience.

"We didn't win anything but that wasn't why we entered," says Allan.

"We went in because we wanted to see how the process worked and what we could learn from it."

Environment Southland staff and their rural banker encouraged them to enter again, and they were "chuffed" to win the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award in the 2015 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

Allan says their 5000 stock unit operation 'Green Ridges' is a traditional family-run farm.

"Our children help out on the farm and we don't employ a lot of contract labour, which keeps our costs low."

He says winning the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award was extremely encouraging "because it shows we are heading in the right direction as far as sustainability goes, and it was great to get credit for that."

The Beef + Lamb NZ Livestock Award recognises farmers who demonstrate in a practical way the choices that have been made to farm for the long term. Judges look at the wise use of land, labour and capital resource. They also consider animal health and the careful matching of stock class and type to land contour and soil type.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Scott Champion says the farmer-funded and governed organisation supports the awards because they provide a great platform for showcasing that farming sustainably and profitably are not mutually exclusive.

"These farmers are demonstrating good environmental practices, and the value to the whole sector is seeing this at work."

BFEA judges praised the Woodrow's conservation values and their "lifelong dedication to share knowledge and develop best practice". Stock performance on Green Ridges is excellent, with the high performing Perendale flock consistently lambing at over 150% unshepherded.

Judges also noted the farm's cattle trading policy which is designed to maximise pasture management through spring and summer while minimising soil damage in autumn and winter.

"I've always got a lot of pleasure out of working with stock," says Allan.

"To me it's not a job, it's a lifestyle."

Allan says entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards gave his family a valuable outside perspective of their operation.

"The judging process makes you take a fresh look at things that you see every day and might take for granted. It's like getting a farm consultancy service for free."

Allan says all farmers should give the competition a go, regardless of how far down the sustainability track they are.

"I think some people are scared to enter because they think they might not win anything. But it's not really about winning; it's more about what you can achieve on the way.

Entries for the 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on 27th November 2015. Entry is free and entry forms are available online at www.bfea.org.nz

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