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Sustainability ambassadors

WAIKATO dairy farmers Adrian and Pauline Ball of Dennley Farms, were last month announced as the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards National Sustainability Showcase at Claudelands, Hamilton.

Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers Nick and Nicky Dawson represented the East Coast at the function, along with the nine other winners from around the country.

Dennley Farms’ strong environmental, social and economic sustainability was a stand-out for the national judging panel.

The tagline of the business is ‘creating value inside the farm gate’.

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 a dairy beef unit as part of their closed, low-input system where forage crops are home-grown and stocking rates are adjusted accordingly.

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 has fenced and planted 1.7km of the Waihou River.

Adrian continues to be actively engaged in sowing the seeds of change within both Fonterra and the dairy sector.

Of entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Adrian said it was good to hear other people’s opinions about what they were doing but also good to be positive and share their 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,” he said.

Each year, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards dinners, the National Sustainability Showcase, and winners’ field days offer a unique, pan-sector forum for networking and the sharing of ideas and information among farmers and growers, agribusiness professionals and the wider community.