Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver have won the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
The win was announced at a gala dinner at the Devon Hotel, New Plymouth, on Wednesday, April 12. The Carvers will host a field day at their Meremere Rd property on April 27.
Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple also took home the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Waterforce Integrated Management Award, Taranaki Regional Council Sustainability Award and the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.
The Carvers utilise their range of flat to steep South Taranaki country by combining both dairy and dry stock farming on Holmleigh, their 515ha family property at Ohangai, east of Hawera.
Award judges described Holmleigh as a tidy, functional farm and highlighted excellent thinking and execution of environmental planning throughout the farm for the long-term sustainability of the land.
They said it was an impressive system giving huge flexibility while helping to ensure a sustainable business.
Tyler Judd has been dairy manager since 2014. Milking started in the new 40-bale rotary cowshed in the spring of that year.
Next season Tyler and his wife Rachel are stepping up to contract milking on the property. From the outset Peter has worked as an extra labour unit and regularly milks to cover Tyler's time off.
Peter and Nicola say they are proud of the farm's progress.
Peter graduated with a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University. He tracks his environmental and soil awareness back to that study time. Peter and Nicola are strong advocates for no tillage and use a cross slot drill for most of their cropping.
Soil tests are carried out before crops go in and nutrients are applied both by broadcast and direct drilled at planting. Soil protection is a primary consideration for them in grazing management.
The Carvers are progressively retiring erosion prone land. Working with the Taranaki Regional Council Waitotara Stress Scheme they have planted 25ha of pines and 5ha of redwood in woodlots.
The planting of poplar for erosion mitigation and stock shelter is ongoing. There are numerous natural springs in the farm's hills.
The largest one has been fenced and runs two water rams that form part of the reticulated stock water system with troughs in every paddock.
Peter's parents Gerald and Faye bought the original 390ha of Holmleigh - including 142ha of West Coast lease - in 1990. Peter and Nicola returned from managing a bull and dairy grazing unit in Waikato in 2002 and the Carver family partnership added a 125ha farm adjoining Holmleigh in 2004.
Peter and Nicola have three daughters - Emma, 15, Abby, 13, and Jodi, 11. In addition to managing the farm books, Nicola is a high school teacher in Stratford.
Gerald is still active on the farm and shares his passion for horses with his three granddaughters. "They spend much of their leisure time riding. Our children have a keen interest in farming and it is hoped that it [Holmleigh] will be kept for the next generation," Nicola says.