Timing was right to enter farm awards

Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards finalists (from left) Bede, Sarah, Hugo, Simon, Eris and...
Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards finalists (from left) Bede, Sarah, Hugo, Simon, Eris and Allan Paterson. Photo: supplied
Positive peer pressure was the biggest reason the Paterson family entered this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Simon and  Sarah Paterson, and Simon’s parents Allan and Eris were finalists in the Otago region and won the WaterForce integrated management award and the Massey University innovation award.

Entries are open for next year’s awards. Otago entries close on October 31. The winners will be announced at an awards dinner in Wanaka on April 13.

The Patersons operate their sheep stud, commercial sheep and trading cattle business over two flat-to-rolling blocks and two hill-country summer runs totalling 2050ha in the Gimmerburn area, west of Ranfurly.

"It’s one of those things — we were always going to have a go, but always kept putting it off. We would say we wanted to wait until we’d finished this or that. There was always something else coming along," Simon Paterson said.

"After some encouragement, we made the decision to do it and talked to other people who had entered in the past.

"No-one who has been through the process ever says a bad word about it."

The family was always trying to improve different areas of the operation and was putting in new pivot irrigation when they entered.

"We’re never sitting still so it would have been something else next time. The time was right," Mr Paterson said.

Visits from the judges were a highlight, as it meant having someone new critique their business, and the competition was well weighted — environmental versus farm sustainability, he said.

"A big thing for us is trying to make sure things are here for future generations. It’s not about making a profit for a couple of years. It’s the long-term viability of the farm business so we have an asset for our children in the future."

Judging and the feedback report reinforced the family’s thinking and their plans.

"It’s a work in progress for our generation. We will look at having another crack in the future to make sure we’re making progress," he said.

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