"Creating value inside the farm gate" has earned a Waikato couple national recognition.
Adrian and Pauline Ball, owners and operators of Dennley Farms Ltd, are the new national ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.
The announcement was made at last night's Ballance Farm Environment Awards National Sustainability Showcase at Claudelands in Hamilton.
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards celebrate and promote sustainable farming and growing practices.
Dennley Farms' strong environmental, social and economic sustainability was a stand-out for the national judging panel.
The business' tagline is "creating value inside the farm gate", and the farm team is active in the creation of meaningful industry change and driven to improve consumer perception of the sector.
Aspiring to model low input, low footprint, high animal welfare values, the Balls have achieved best practice agronomy to optimise crop and animal yields without compromising environmental health.
Pauline runs the dairy beef unit which is part of their closed, low-input system where forage crops are home-grown and stocking rates are adjusted accordingly.
An innovative approach to managing staff rosters makes Dennley Farms a great place to work.
The couple's early adoption of technology demonstrates an active intention to run a business that has science, logic and progressive innovation at its heart.
Long-term plans are to fine-tune farm-grown feed requirements, trial crops and practices that reduce the farm's footprint further year-on-year, introduce more energy-saving and cost-effective infrastructure to the asset base, and maintain growth across the dairy platform and beef breeding enterprise.
Dennley Farms, situated between Tīrau and Matmata, is a showcase for New Zealand farming and growing, with 1.7km fenced and riparian planting along the Waihou River. Adrian continues to be actively engaged in sowing the seeds of change within both Fonterra and the dairy sector.
Listen to Adrian and Pauline Balls' interview with The Country's Jamie Mackay below:
Of entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Adrian comments: "For our daughters to experience the awards has brought a deeper understanding of the sustainable journey our family has been on.
"It is always good to hear other people's opinions about what you are doing. We have been involved with the sector for a while now, and it's good to be positive and share our story. You never feel like you are 'ready' but having an understanding of the issues and options is important, and the awards offer that opportunity.
"The awards have certainly made us both think a lot deeper into the future of our own business and what it would take to influence and help the pasture-based meat and dairy sectors grow consumer trust and ultimately grow value. They have highlighted to us the need to not be individuals in this vision but to take other farmers on the journey."
Chairwoman of the national judging panel Dianne Kidd said: "On behalf of the judges of the 2019 Gordon Stephenson Trophy, I would like to congratulate Adrian and Pauline Ball.
"The Balls demonstrate a deep understanding of all aspects of sustainability, taking a holistic approach to the triple bottom line as a base to build on other sustainable criteria, including consumer awareness, staff welfare, ethics and animal welfare.
"They have a vision and conviction that New Zealand needs to take sustainability seriously. Economic budgets and models are no longer sufficient to kick-start a farm business with sustainability as an end-goal. The sustainable business model should be upfront at the start.
"Adrian and Pauline are a strong team and will be excellent ambassadors for the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. They are passionate about sustainability and leading change by example."
Each year, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards' ceremonies, the National Sustainability Showcase, and winners' field days offer a unique, pan-sector forum for networking and the sharing of ideas and information among farming/growers peers, agribusiness professionals and the wider community.