For John and Marina Poulton and John's parents Rod and Bev, their focus on the environment at their Dannevirke farm has won them the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock award at the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment awards.

The Poulton's property, Kapiti Farm east of Dannevirke, is a 600 stock unit cattle finishing and sheep breeding and finishing operation which the judges described as "a well-run business closely aligned to consideration of the environment" with "healthy grasses, crops and stock".

Three years ago the family restructured their involvement in Kapiti Farm and now the 480-hectare (effective) property is operated wholly by John and Marina while the land ownership is shared between the couple and Rod and Bev.

Last spring John and Marina and their three girls moved off the farm, allowing John to concentrate on his bachelor of agricultural commerce degree studies.

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Alistair Macpherson took on the role of operations manager. He is responsible for the day-to-day running of the farm.

However, John is at the farm for at least a week each month, and during busy times when an extra pair of hands-on help is needed.

The judges praised the Poulton's approach and John and Alistair's relationship.

The next step for the Poultons is creating a wetland.

- The other Tararua winners in the awards were Tim and Nic Hewitt of Balfour Farm, Pahiatua won the Margaret Matthews Commitment to Sustainability Award and the CB Norwood Distributors Ltd Agri-Business Management Award.

Quick facts Kapiti Farm:

* Total area: 545ha.

* Stock units: 6000.

* Rainfall:1100mm.

* Elevation: 200-300m above sea level.

* Kapiti Farm, mainly medium hill country just north-east of Dannevirke, was purchased 10 years ago by the Poulton family

* The property has about 180ha of flat to easy cultivable country with the balance medium hill. A 5ha gully has been protected through QEII National Trust covenant. This contains unlogged remnants of the original 70-mile-bush which once stretched between Pahiatua and Dannevirke.