Geraldine sharemilkers win environment award

Geraldine sharemilkers Joe and Suz Wyborn have been awarded the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award at the regional Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) in Christchurch.

The Wyborns also won the Supreme Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, LIC Dairy Farm Award, Massey University Innovation Award, and Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.

Last year more than 900 cows were milked on the 220ha (effective) farm to produce 411,000kg of milk solids.

Judges said this excellent production is driven by sound pasture management and efficient use of water.

“The Wyborns are extremely focused on developing and articulating processes and systems that allow the farm to run efficiently”.

Judges also noted the couple’s “outstanding adoption of technology and web-based tools to assist in farm management”.

“They monitor and measure, but most importantly they make full use of data in their decisions,” they said.

Two centre-pivot irrigators service all but 4.5ha of the farm and a detailed, illustrated farm operating manual allows staff to manage the farm safely. One of the items on the checklist requires staff to access soil moisture and temperature data from under irrigators.

“We love technology; we use it everywhere we can,” said Joe Wyborn. “Staff don’t have to check with me, they have all the information there and can just turn the irrigation off. There’s no point watering when you don’t need to”.

Environment Canterbury Commissioner Chair Dame Margaret Bazley, who presented the Water Quality Award, said entrants needed to demonstrate they were aware of the impact their operation had on water quality, and to have taken deliberate steps to manage this.

“Joe and Suz Wyborn have demonstrated that good and innovative farm management can also be good for business.

“By adopting and investing in technology, famers can often improve productive capacity while at the same time reducing environmental effects, and in this case, actually improve water quality.

“Environment Canterbury congratulates all entrants in these awards for their vision and leadership to put new ideas into practice,” said Dame Margaret Bazley.

A BFEA Supreme-winner field day will be held on Grantlea Dairy No 1, with the date to be advised.

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