13 Apr 2013

Southland dairy farmers win environment award

9:05 am on 13 April 2013

A combination of high productivity and environmental sustainability has won a Southland dairy farming couple the region's top farm environment award.

Abe and Anita de Wolde converted their first sheep and beef farm to dairying in 1990 and now own three dairy units in the Heddon Bush area and have shares in a fourth.

They set out to prove farming can be highly productive as well as sustainable and as part of their system for reducing the environmental footprint, they house their cows in barns overnight during winter.

That has extended the milking season, reduced feed requirements and fertiliser costs and provided the ability to store nitrogen and avoid leaching. Manure gathered from the barns is spread out on paddocks.

Second time win for sharemilkers

Maruia sharemilking couple Peter and Helen McLaren have won the Sharemilker-Equity Farmers of the Year title for the West Coast-Top of the South region.

It's their second big dairy award after claiming the region's Farm Manager of the Year title in 2008.

This year's farm manager award went to Blue Benseman who manages Landcorp's Bassets Dairy Unit at Westport.

Sam Riley, who works on a Tapawera farm, is Dairy Trainee of the Year.