Farm Environment Awards supreme winner named

Kepler Farm manager Travis Leslie. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Kepler Farm manager Travis Leslie. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Kepler Farm in Te Anau has been named this year's supreme winner of the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Landcorp-owned sheep and beef property has been managed by Travis Leslie and Catriona Cunningham since 2012. They received the award at a function last night.

Carrying about 7300 sheep and 1650 cattle, the operation's main focus is a terminal sire sheep flock called FocusPrime.

Through that programme, 500 rams are sold every December, both in-house to other Landcorp properties and also on the public market.

Lambing percentage during the past three years has been at 150% with commercial ewes while a large number of cattle are also traded on the programme.

The genetics programme is a significant priority for Mr Leslie and Ms Cunningham and their extended team.

The judges were impressed by the farm's extensive commitment to biodiversity. In the past two years, more than 10,000 trees, plants and shrubs have been planted in riparian zones and as shelter for stock.

The judges noted the well-thought-out shelter belts

and said the introduction of fescue had been a "game changer" for the property, enabling all the cattle to be grass wintered, with the focus now on grass wintering a portion of the sheep flock.

Mr Leslie had inspiring ambitions for the future of the farm and the wider primary sector. "We've always done the environmental work but it got to a stage where we wanted to share what we had achieved.

"Farms belong to New Zealand and it is nice to think one day farmland could be seen in the way national parks are," he said.

The judges described Kepler Farm as "an amazing example of a large-scale farm where high-productivity farming and environmental sustainability have been achieved".

Kepler Farm also won the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, Massey University Innovation Award, Predator Free NZ Trust Predator Free Farm Award and Environment Southland Water Quality and Biodiversity Award.

Other award winners were. -

Michael Bashford (Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award), Dean and Sarah Rabbidge (DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award, Hills Laboratories Agri-science Award and Norwood Agri-business Management Award), Duncan and Kerralie Falconer (Waterforce Integrated Management Award and The Plant Store Farm Planting and Design Award). A field day will be held at Kepler Farm on May 9.


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