David and Sarah Smith. Photo supplied.
Switching to a gravity-fed water system has paid off for
East Otago farmers David and Sarah Smith.
The couple are equity managers on a 1463ha property, Mt
Watkins, near Waikouaiti, farming in partnership with Mr
Smith's parents Rex and Glenys.
The family purchased the original 920ha block in 2005 and
bought another 510ha, which was previously leased, three
Mt Watkins now carries up to 9500 stock units, including 5000
ewes and hoggets and 460 Friesian bulls.
In recent years, there has been an extensive development
programme designed to improve infrastructure, increase soil
fertility and lift pasture performance on the steep
A key part of that programme included the construction of a
large dam near the top of the farm to store and supply farm
''Before we built the dam, we had to pump river water up a
400m lift using a two-stage pumping system.
''It was a very expensive system to run and we had a lot of
problems with pumps breaking down,'' Mr Smith said.
Completed in 2011, the new system saved the Smiths an
estimated $1200 a month in electricity costs and pump
''It's more reliable and it's much more sustainable,'' Mr
The couple collected three category awards in this year's
Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, including the energy
That award recognised farmers driving excellence in utilising
on-farm opportunities to generate or maximise energy
Judges described Mr and Mrs Smith as an enthusiastic young
couple with a strong desire to succeed and a real focus on
Participating in the competition confirmed they were ''on the
right track'' as far as sustainability was concerned, while
it also highlighted some areas they needed to work on in the
future, Mr Smith said.
They realised their farm budgeting skills were not as good as
they could be. Mrs Smith was now studying for a diploma in
agribusiness which would help them improve their business
Entries are open for the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment