Family station claims top farm environment award

By: Media Release

Broadlands Station, a multi-generational sheep and beef farming operation owned by the Akers family, is the Supreme Winner of the 2015 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award was presented to William (Willie) Akers, Hugh and Judy Akers, and Willie’s fiancée Laura Oughton at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 12.

BFEA judges described the Ashhurst hill-country business as an "excellent example of multi-generational farming for environmental stability and financial success".

They noted "strong attention to detail in all aspects of the operation" and commended the family’s steadfast dedication to historical and environmental preservation.

Willie Akers started taking over the 1650ha farm (1400ha effective) from his parents, Hugh and Judy, in 2012. The property, which was originally settled by the family in 1880, winters about 11,500 stock units with a 70: 30 sheep to cattle ratio.

Stock manager Wayne Romley, who has worked at Broadlands for 30 years, is a key member of the team. Laura Oughton, who works for a seed company, also brings valued agronomic knowledge to the station.

Judges said the depth and experience of the management team gives the operation a "unique stability and confidence".

Broadlands is broken into land management units according to factors that include soil and contour. It runs about 6000 ewes, and lambs are finished to strict carcase specifications on high performing pastures. The station has won a number of awards for the consistency and quality of its meat, and BFEA judges highlighted the "meticulous stock records kept to achieve maximum production".

Broadlands also takes great pride in its wool production.

The Pohangina River and numerous tributaries run through the property, and flooding and erosion is a constant challenge. Hugh Akers has overseen a programme of mitigation that includes ongoing planting work and the careful establishment and maintenance of woodlots and native blocks.

BFEA judges praised the family’s significant input into Pohangina River protection activities, which are now carried out in conjunction with the Horizons Regional Council.

Judges also noted rich biodiversity on the farm. A reserve has been established to protect native bush, and another incorporates a large wetland area that is home to a rare native mudfish.

Students and tutors from Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre regularly use Broadlands as an outdoor classroom.

The Akers family has significant community involvement, with ties to the local rugby club, gun club, polocrosse and RSA. Broadlands is a sponsor of the Manawatu Turbos.

A BFEA Supreme-winner field day will be held on Broadlands Station, with the date to be announced.

Winners in the 2015 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Supreme award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award: William Akers and Laura Oughton, Hugh and Judy Akers, Broadlands Station, Ashhurst.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award: Margo and Alistair Robertson, Robell Farming Limited, Bulls.
Hill Laboratories Harvest Award: Paul and Lisa Charmley, Te Rehunga Farms Limited, Dannevirke.

LIC Dairy Farm Award, PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award and Waterforce Integrated Management Award: George and Ellen Bartlett, Feilding.

Massey University Innovation Award: Mark and Jayne Pescini, Darcy Fogden, Tangimate, Levin.

Horizons Regional Council Award for the Integration of Trees: Marsh Kibby, Tony Groome, Levi Forestry Limited, Pongaroa.

The Margaret Matthews Trophy for Commitment to Sustainability: John and Jean Ellison, Monowai, Norsewood.

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