Every year, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards celebrate farmers’ achievements, focusing on issues such as biodiversity, soil, water and waste management, and animal and plant care.

Farmers across New Zealand are recognised for their hard work, innovation, and environmental stewardship. Here are three of this year’s 10 Regional Supreme winners.

Super sheep farmers

Steven and Kellie Nichol, whose family has farmed at Clarks Junction for 150 years, were celebrated for their forward-thinking approach.

Their farm, Auldamor, specialises in sheep breeding and finishing, with 4,500 ewes, 1,500 hoggets, 80 rams, and nearly 300 beef cows grazed each year.

The couple received recognition for diversifying their business and considering the environmental impact of their work.

By modifying farming practices and emphasising on-farm measuring and monitoring, stock productivity and profitability increased.

The duo introduced several initiatives, including a no-till drilling programme to improve soil health, which improved pasture resilience, yields, stock performance, and animal health.

The farm has improved its biodiversity by planting shelterbelts and forestry stands, and by implementing fencing around native shrubland and waterways.

Community engagement in Northland

Dairy farmers Andrew and Vicky Booth took the prize in Northland, and were awarded for years of work to create an environmentally and economically sustainable business.

The couple created a new wetland area, introduced active pest management, and took steps to preserve areas of native bush, encouraging the return of native birds.

Judges agreed the farm was economically and environmentally sustainable and recognised the Booths’ community work and passion for the industry.

The Booths share knowledge with their local community, and are helping to bridge the urban-rural divide by working with schools to plant 2,000 native plants each year.

The partnership has had a positive impact on local schoolchildren as they learn about looking after the environment, judges said.

Gold star for Glenbrook kiwifruit growers

Brett and Fenella Wheeler, kiwifruit farmers in Glenbrook, Auckland, took the Regional Supreme Award in the Super City for their science-based approach.

The Wheelers were celebrated for using science to tailor their growing, using data insights to adjust their planting to the natural environment.

The property’s soil is fully mapped, providing a clear picture of its structure and properties. Brett and Fenella use this knowledge to guide irrigation and fertigation with pinpoint precision, tailored to every individual plant.

The couple were also recognised for their combination of regenerative and conventional practices, and innovative methods to enhance soils, improve water efficiency and benefit the natural environment.

Disclaimer: This blog has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms only. The blog should not be relied upon to provide specific information without also obtaining appropriate professional advice after detailed examination of your particular situation.