Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards regional supreme winners Travis Leslie and Catriona Cunningham will host a field day on Landcorp's Kepler Farm, near Te Anau, tomorrow.

Kepler Farm, which carries about 7300 sheep and 1650 cattle, is managed by the couple, who won the title last month and who will be going to the national awards in Hamilton on June 6.

The gates open at 9.30am and the presentation starts at 10am.

After that, there will be a tour of the property and then, back at the woolshed, there will be a Q & A session with the couple.


The guest speaker is former All Black and head coach of the Stags Dave Hewett.

The day will finish about 1.45pm with a barbecue.

BFEA Southland committee chairman Bruce Allan said the field day would attract a lot of interest and the 10am start would allow enough time for visitors to take part in the field day and be back home in time to pick up children from school.

The couple would be showcasing several features of their management, including their success with tall fescue grass.

''It is quite a dry property and the move to tall fescue made a significant improvement on their pasture productivity,'' Allan said.

''They maintain a long-grass system, which means they get very good cover right throughout the year. It allowed them to run a lot more cattle and reduce the area of winter crop they grow. The approach is working for them.''

The long-grass system preserved pasture cover and the vitality and resilience of the swards, he said.

''They can handle the drought better than they used to.''


Allan said another of the property's notable features was the protected wetland and native areas, and extensive pest control.

''They make a nice feature of the farm without compromising carrying capacity.

''They have also been doing trials for Doc, including direct drilling native seeds into the soil.''

In the past two years, more than 10,000 trees, plants and shrubs had been planted in riparian zones and as shelter for stock.

The couple also won:

• The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, which focuses on the excellent management of soil and nutrients.

• The Massey University Innovation Award, which recognises the farmer or grower that demonstrated Kiwi ingenuity for solving a problem or pursuing a new opportunity.

• The Predator Free NZ Trust Predator Free Farm Award, which recognises the efforts of land managers to successfully control animal predators to achieve native biodiversity outcomes.

• The Environment Southland Water Quality & Biodiversity Award, which recognises the farmer who demonstrates sustainable farming practices, particularly with regard to water quality and biodiversity.

Kepler Farm is at 1443 Manapouri Te Anau Highway, at the Manapouri end.