Thursday, 16 February 2012 14:19

Waikato farm impresses Swedes

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Swedes who recently visited an award-winning Waikato farm were impressed by our farming, says the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust.

Delegates from the Swedish Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Agriculture on February 9 visited Gray and Marilyn Baldwin's organic dairy farm near Putaruru. The Baldwins and their sharemilkers Hamish and Jane Putt were Supreme winners of the 2009 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

NZFE chairman Jim Cotman says the trust was asked by MAF to host the delegation, visiting to study agricultural policy and ecological production. "We saw this as an opportunity to highlight [NZ farmers'] good environmental practices."

The Swedish visitors were impressed by the tree planting and riparian protection work on the 138ha property. They also got to drink from a fresh water spring.

Gray Baldwin and Hamish Putt told the visitors about pasture management, the Emission Trading Scheme, nutrient budgeting, tree planting, water protection and effluent disposal.

Baldwin told the visitors his philosophy was to get "high quality and profitable milk out of one end of the system, and clean water out the other. We have learned that what is good for the environment is great for business."

Larry Bilodeau, chief executive of Ballance Agri-Nutrients, explained the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). These showcase good farming techniques to the wider farming community.

The 10 Swedes represented different political parties. At the Baldwin's farm they met the Swedish ambassador for New Zealand and Australia and other guests including former BFEA winners and representatives of DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Waikato Regional Council and Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

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