Five Northland entrants are vying for the coveted Ballance Farm Environment Award this year.
The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, which runs the awards, has had to contend with major delays due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The regional awards events, due to start in March, have been postponed until June and July.
NZFET chairwoman Joanne van Polanen said the trust was determined to run in-person functions to celebrate the entrants, which means waiting until this can be done more safely.
"We are thrilled to have received a range of excellent entries from across the country for this year's awards," she said.
"It shows that despite all of the disruptions to business and life in general, farmers and growers across New Zealand are committed to environmentally sustainable practices. We are thrilled to be able to recognise and share their stories."
The entrants from the Northland region include rural businesses across dairy, sheep and beef, horticulture and viticulture.
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards function for the Northland region is now scheduled for June 22 at the Barge Park Events Centre, Maunu, Whangarei.
The entrants are:
Kim and Graham Gilkison, Dancing Petrel - Viticulture
Kim and Graham Gilkison bought the boutique Mangonui business, which was struggling and needed significant remedial work, in 2018. They spent the next three years heavily pruning and reorganising the plants, and putting in 6500 new vines.
Dancing Petrel now produces quality wine and has significantly increased production in a sustainable way. Overall production has increased per vine and, in 2019, their Cabernet Franc grape harvest doubled to about eight tonnes. Full benefits of their work will be seen over the next three years as the new vines come into full production.
They use sustainable growing methods, spray-use, soil and leaf analysis. There's a strong focus on soil health, including soil testing to guide fertiliser application, and digging mulched clippings back into the soil. Recycling is a priority, and biodiversity is enhanced by caring for a wetland and planting native species.
Geoff and Jo Crawford, Crawford Farms - Dairy and Beef
The Crawfords have been dairy farming for 30 years, with Crawford Farms at Crane Rd, Kauri, now encompassing three dairy farms and a 300ha beef unit that has been purchased over time.
Dairy is the main pillar of the business, with the remaining 25 per cent of income derived from beef. The team milk a total of 1500 cows, averaging 590,000kg of milk solids annually. Each year, the 700 calves born on the farm are sold as trade cattle, while 20 per cent of the dairy herd is finished.
There's a strong focus on good genetics and pasture management, growing a diverse range of forages, along with the active management of weeds and insect pests.
The Crawfords employ an innovative soil moisture monitoring programme and have a strong commitment to pest and predator control.
Geoff Mansell, Kotare Farm - Horticulture
Kotare Farm in Maunu, near Whangarei, is primarily a fig and feijoa orchard but owner Geoff Mansell has recently been branching out.
He has started growing bananas and a covered subtropical fruit nursery has been built - growing papaya, pineapple and Honduran-type bananas. The nursery is a trial to explore the viability and productivity of the covered plants.
With about 60 per cent of his income derived from 900 feijoa plants. Geoff gets about one-third of his income from the 100 banana plants, with the balance coming from figs and plant sales.
Good management practices and efficient irrigation are minimising the business's impact on freshwater, while the team closely monitors soil quality.
There is an active focus on reducing waste and recycling, including chipping and mulching prunings. All plants are referenced to authenticated varieties.
Geoff's business model is designed to capitalise on climate change, with the investment in subtropical fruit.
Julian McPike and Trevor Smyth, Oneriri Station - Sheep and Beef
Oneriri Station, near Kaiwaka, has been in McPike's family since 2009 and features extensive areas of native plants, including impressive stands of historic kauri.
The business is driven by a successful winter lamb trade. In 2020, about 20,500 sheep and lambs brought in 60 per cent of the farm's income between a mix of breeding and lamb finishing. The balance was derived from the breeding and finishing of 1260 cattle.
Almost all of the 47km coastline has been fenced, along with all waterways and large areas of established native bush. Mānuka, pittosporum and flax are some of the species that have been planted extensively across the property.
Oneriri Station features 40ha of pine and about 800ha of native trees which are sequestering carbon. There's an active focus on reducing pests and weeds.
Paddocks have been subdivided, grazing is carefully controlled and there's a strong focus on protecting the quality of freshwater. Stock grazing is tailored to soil type and nitrogen is strategically used to drive pasture production.
Stuart Paterson and Melisa Jones, Tymana Farm - Dairy
Tymana Farm, near Taipa in the Far North, was a gorse-covered beef farm when Stuart Paterson and Melisa Jones purchased it in 2013. They have since converted it into profitable dairy business.
They are about three-quarters of the way through Tymana's development and have put significant time and effort into the property's conversion from beef dry stock.
Across 135ha of the 168ha farm, they milk between 220 and 250 mixed breed dairy cows, with cashflow boosted by a small quarry and a calf-rearing business.
Tymana's significant development has included realigning paddocks from a vertical to horizontal aspect that better suits the land's topography. This has reduced the impact of winter grazing and led to cleaner streams and increased pasture fertility.