A Central Hawke's Bay dairy farm was last night named winner of the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Award.

The acclaim for Parkhill Dairy Farm at Ashley Clinton, and owner Andrea Barry and manager Craig Pennell, was announced at the latest regional awards dinner in the Napier Conference Centre.

Parkhill was one of the first three dairy farms converted by Andrea Barry and late husband Peter in 1994, and has enduring appeal.

"When you go to the top of the hill and look over the land, it's amazing how it has changed in 23 years," she said.

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"It's a beautiful property that deserves to be showcased. I'm ready to show it off.

"We haven't entered environmental awards in the past because of people's perceptions of dairy," she said. "Here's our chance to change that."

Pennell, the farm's manager for three years, said: "It's a credit to Andrea and Peter for their vision at the start, and we are carrying on that passion."

A former Fonterra networker, he had previously been sharemilking in Southland and Bay of Plenty and contract milking in Waikato, but Parkhill is his first position with a corporate enterprise.

The Barrys bought Parkill through equity company Longrow Pastoral Ltd. They bought the company in 2000 changing the name to Longrow Dairies Ltd then bought Barry Farms in 1996 and Ashton in 1998 (as part of Epic Agriculture).

The three different entities were combined into one operating unit in 2000 - BEL Group is made up of Barry Farms, Epic and Longrow. It employs 65 staff working on 2600ha of milking platform and leased dairy support land.

"There are lot of opportunities here to make a difference," said Mr Pennell. "I love sharing my knowledge and experience with others still coming through."

The Parkhill team also won the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, CB Norwood Distributors Ltd Agri-Business Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award.

Andrea Barry's son, Robert, and his wife, Alison, won the Predator Free New Zealand Award and the two BEL Group entries also shared the Dairy NZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award.

Richard and Hannah Coop from Okepuha Station, Mahia, won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award and the East Coast Farming for the Future Award (as sponsored by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the Gisborne District Council).

The WaterForce Integrated Management Award was won by Steve Treseder, who manages a Waipukurau sheep and beef farm for Nisbett Taumata Estate Ltd.

The dinner was the fifth around the regions, with five others to be held before national honours are announced in Wellington in June.