Stewardship key for award winners

Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards Supreme Award winner Wayne McIntosh. Photo supplied.
Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards Supreme Award winner Wayne McIntosh. Photo supplied.
Kaiwera farmers Andrew and Heather Tripp consider themselves ''stewards of the land'' and ensure everything they do has sustainability in mind.

The couple, who own 1635ha Nithdale Station, were named Supreme Award winners of 2014 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) for the second time at the awards on Thursday, April 10.

Since winning the Supreme Award for the first time in 2002, the Tripps constantly worked to ensure their property, which has sheep, beef, dairy and forestry, as well as a genetics business and a farmstay, was always operating sustainably, Mr Tripp said.

''We see ourselves as the stewards of the land, which a lot of farmers do.''

''There have been a lot of situations where people have not done so, but New Zealand has had quite a big shift towards being sustainable.

''It not only affects our future in terms of being able to keep farming, but also the market, because people want to be able to see you are sustainable.''

They also won the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Massey University Innovation Award, the LIC Dairy Farm Award and the Alliance Quality Livestock Award.

Judges praised the Tripps' commitment and passion for the land, which was first settled by Andrew's grandfather in 1924.

Carrying 17,000 stock units, Nithdale was described as a large property with six enterprises running at once and ''excellence sought from every stream of operation''.

Judges said the Tripps were always at the cutting edge of farming for the future and are determined to adapt and adopt new practices.

BFEA Southland co-ordinator Helen van der Linden said this year's awards night was the biggest since the awards began 12 years ago, with 300 people attending.

A BFEA field day will be held at Nithdale Station on April 29.

McIntosh Orchard Ltd manager Wayne McIntosh said he was surprised and overwhelmed to receive the Supreme Award at the Otago BFEA night on April 11.

He also collected the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Ballance Agri- Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

Mr McIntosh said sustainability was ''imperative'' to running the business.

''We have been running the orchard for more than 100 years now, so sustainability is pretty high on the list.

''We are making sure we are doing what we can for future generations - we want to leave the place in a better shape than we found it.''

Judges said the 64ha pipfruit and stonefruit operation was a business at the forefront of its industry, describing it as a top producing orchard with ''a vision and strategy to promote the Otago region and to be recognised nationally and internationally''.

Situated between Alexandra and Clyde, the family-owned orchard has about 34,000 trees and produces cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, apples and a range of trial fruits.

Mr McIntosh has been managing the business for 10 years and runs it in partnership with his parents, Stuart and Sharyn.

Judges commended Mr McIntosh on his ''commitment and enthusiasm'' to running a successful and growing business while continuing to ''ensure the sustainability of this multi-generational enterprise''.

A BFEA field day will be held at McIntosh Orchard on May 14.