Entries are open for the 2023 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, with organizers hoping for a record number of farmers to take part this year.
Run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the awards celebrate farmer and grower achievement and showcase good practice.
They also aim to share positive growing and farming stories within the industry and around the country.
Assessment for the awards considers the farm system, including animal and plant care, biodiversity, business health, climate, people and well-being, soil, water and waste management.
Covid disruption has meant a challenging couple of years for the regional awards program, which was adjusted to fit lockdown and level parameters.
Covid-19 not only affected the number of farmer entries but also the timing of the judging visits and the awards events.
However, the response from farmers, sponsors, and supporters to the recently held regional events indicated there would be a strong number of entries for the 2023 awards, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Chair Joanne van Polanen said.
“The overwhelming consensus was that, not only did the entrants really value the attention and positive feedback throughout, but those attending the awards functions and the resulting winners’ field days were grateful for the chance to connect with their peers and to be able to hear others’ stories.
“It isn’t until you can’t, that you realize how important it is to connect with industry peers in a supportive and positive setting.”
The awards program is designed to be a positive way to receive productive feedback on the entrant’s business, to help identify strengths and to learn from others about the food and fiber sector.
Van Polanen said she had a good feeling about entry numbers for the 2023 awards.
“We have weathered the storm that has been Covid-19, and early indications hint that
conditions are now ripe for a bumper crop of award entries.”
The awards not only offered farmers recognition but a chance to take stock of their achievements, judge and trustee Warwick Catto said.
“One of the most positive things we get from entrants is that they take time to reflect on where they’ve got to and what they’ve achieved,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.
“When you’ve been around for a while, you notice the tremendous changes that have happened on-farm, not only in terms of physical appearance but the economic and people-management things that have happened.”
It was also a great opportunity to network and “get cutting edge,” Catto said.
“Get exposed to people who are edgy, who are doing things interestingly and innovatively and who have a relatively holistic view.”
Catto encouraged farmers not to shy away from sharing their stories.
“Everyone says they’re never, ever ready to enter … but for us, it’s about feedback on what you’re doing and what you’re doing well.
“Farmers are exceptionally modest but please think about entering.”
Entries are open until October 15 and can be made online at nzfeawards.org.nz
Ballance Farm Environment Awards 2023 categories
• Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award
• Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award
• Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award
• DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award
• Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award
• Norwood Agri-Business Management Award
• NZ Farm Environment Trust Biodiversity Award
• NZ Landcare Trust Catchment Group Award