Taipa sheep and beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O'Callaghan have been named supreme winners of the 2016 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
The couple, who own 610ha Temataa Station in Doubtless Bay, received the supreme award at a ceremony at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort at Waitangi last week, when they also received the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.
Judges said the O'Callaghans combine impressive production and exceptional financial performance with an in-depth understanding of the environmental challenges faced by their farm.
They run an intensive beef system that covers 400ha and uses both Technosystem laneways and cellular systems stocked with breeding cows, young bulls and two-year bulls. The balance of the property is set-stocked with sheep and cattle.
Stock performance has increased significantly since the introduction of the intensive system, which is likely to be expanded in future. Total annual meat production from 550ha (effective) averages 303kg of carcaseweight/ha.
Because the farm is located within the Doubtless Bay catchment, limiting nutrient run-off is a key focus. Laneways in the intensive beef system run across the hills to help slow water movement, and mobs are shifted every second day to avoid damage to pasture while minimising pugging and eliminating sediment loss. If conditions get wet, cattle go on to daily shifts, with some of the more vulnerable areas skipped if necessary.
The property has four spring-fed dams with a large storage capacity for the summer dry coastal location. Water is pumped to tanks on the farm and gravity fed through an interlinked system that allows for any dam to feed any part of the water scheme. Water levels and flows are monitored remotely, allowing for the rapid identification of leaks.
A BFEA Supreme-winner field day will be held on Temataa Station on May 5.