Efforts to care for the land recognised

Angus Barr and Tara Dwyer manage The Wandle for Lone Star Farms. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Angus Barr and Tara Dwyer manage The Wandle for Lone Star Farms. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Angus Barr and Tara Dwyer, of The Wandle, near Middlemarch, are this year’s regional supreme winners of the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The couple have been managing The Wandle since 2020, and are focused on producing quality over quantity while caring for the land. The Wandle is one of seven farms owned or leased by Lone Star Farms.

The sheep and cattle, breeding and finishing operation uses a flexible cropping and re-grassing system. The 2550ha (2400ha effective) property features 700ha of irrigated land and 500ha of tussock country on the Rock and Pillar Range conservation area.

They run 4000 ewes and 270 Angus cows, producing both premium and commodity beef and lamb, along with wool products. They are continually tweaking their farming system to balance production, premium stock, financial profit, and their environmental footprint.

Farming practices were guided by different technologies including farm management software and soil monitoring. They were actively working to earn carbon credits and reduce methane emissions.

The farm’s grazing policy reflected soil characteristics and considered river flats, fragile soils and water risks with an eye to protecting them into the future.

An animal welfare lens was applied to all management decisions, ensuring stock were happy and healthy. The judges commended the excellent farm infrastructure, including a quality stock water reticulation system and innovative culvert installations to keep stock and vehicles out of waterways.

The couple were also striving to improve the protection of the property’s native habitats, with the judges observing that having 80% of waterways already fenced and a large riparian planting programme along the riparian setbacks was "an amazing legacy of this property".

Judges noted the couple were hard workers, innovative and made a formidable farm management team.

The couple also showed exceptional people management, encouraging their team to be part of the business and the wider community, and have a combined desire to improve the farm’s performance and enhance biodiversity, treating the farm as if it was their own.

The couple also won the following awards:

—  Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award.

—  Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award.

—  Rabobank Agri-Business Management Award.

—  NZFET Climate Recognition Award.

—  Otago Regional Council Quality Water Enhancement Award.

Other Otago Ballance Farm Environment Award winners included:

Mike Casey and Euan White (Forest Lodge Orchard, Cromwell): Norwood Farming Efficiency Award; NZFET Innovation Award.

Justin Pigou, Neill Casey and Matt Hamilton (Waitepeka, Pāmu Farms, Romahapa South Otago): DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award.

Lyndon and Jade McNab (Lochindorb Run, Owaka & Warepa, Clutha): NZFET Biodiversity Award.

Tim Paulin (3 Kings Cherries, Clyde): Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award.

Dave Sutton and Mark Naismith (Te Kano — Northburn Vineyard, Cromwell): Hill Labs Agri-Science Award.

— Staff reporter