A long-term commitment to environmental stewardship has earned Rukumoana Farms the top spot at Taranaki's Ballance Farm Environment Awards, run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.
The awards champion sustainable farming and growing through a programme that selects one regional supreme winner from each of the 11 regions involved.
Rukumoana Farms is now in the running for the national Gordon Stephenson Trophy, to be awarded at a later date.
Rukumoana Farms is run by the Brown family – Robert, Jane, Nick, Sophie, Will, Kate and Sam. This cohesive family unit is successfully driving this farm that has significantly grown during the 34 years that Robert and Jane have been involved. The farm spans three locations, Mangimingi, Rawhiti and Huinga.
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The judges said the family demonstrates a genuine passion for their farm and industry.
"This impressive family operation plays to the strengths of all family members. There's also an excellent ability to spread risk while managing cashflow."
The family wants to leave a positive legacy, striving hard to produce quality stock while improving the farm's environmental footprint. To help offset greenhouse gas emissions, 32ha of trees were planted under the Afforestation Grant Scheme in 2011, and 12ha of bush was retired. Three wetland areas have been fenced off and numerous native plants put in. Poplar poles are used for erosion control and shade, and predators are actively managed.
A direct drill is used to plant fattening crops – a no-tillage approach that helps conserve the soil.
The positive stance of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards attracted the family to enter, along with it being a chance to acknowledge the hard work that has gone into the farm by past and present generations.
As well as receiving this year's Supreme Regional Award, they also won the Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, Norwood Agri-Business Management Award, Synlait Climate Stewardship Award, WaterForce Wise with Water Award and the Taranaki Regional Council Sustainability Award.
Other award winners were: Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award - Ron, Noel and Karl Stanley, Stanley Brothers Trust.
DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award - Verna and Robert Bourke, Conna and Nick Smith, Fern Flats.
Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award Ron - Noel and Karl Stanley, Stanley Brothers Trust.
Massey University Innovation Award - Steve Lepper, Lepper Trust.