Ballance Awards a networking opportunity for entrants

Waikato finalists Peter and Karen West talk about the benefits of entering Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Meeting other entrants and finding out about the great work everyone else was doing were highlights of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Waikato finalists Peter and Karen West.

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"It was interesting to see what everyone else had been doing off their own bat. Most of it is common sense stuff for the future of their farms," Peter says. "We also got good feedback about what we’re doing and ways we can improve ourselves."

The Wests, who won the region’s LIC Dairy Award, milk 409 cows on 144 hectares (effective) on the edge of the Hauraki Plains west of Ngatea. The couple started 50:50 sharemilking in 1985 and three years later bought the first 35 hectares of what is now the 109-hectare farm they own. The balance of the farm is leased.

As first-time Ballance Farm Environment Awards entrants, Peter says they wanted to be proactive and better prepared.

"There’s a big truck coming and we can sit in the middle of the road and wait for it to run us over or we can be proactive and put something in place to protect ourselves from it," Peter says.

"It’s not a scary truck – we just like to stay ahead of things. We don’t want to get caught by regulations and end up on the back foot. The message is to be aware of what’s happening and how things can affect you, your farm, and your area. That’s where the awards were good. We met some really cool people and gathered some good ideas."

The Wests have been busy since the awards dinner in March. They have had a riparian management plan done by DairyNZ, talked to regional council staff, and become involved with the Piako-Waihou Engagement Group – a group of about 20 farmers who want to be better informed on issues in their area.

The Wests also won a dairy farm business of the year title and Peter has set up a Facebook blog called Peter West – Strong Heart of a Man. Peter says their farm is at the ‘what’s next’ stage of development and the networking and personal growth as a result of the awards has come at the right time.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards recognises and celebrates good farm practices that promote sustainable land management through an annual awards programme, which is now run in 11 regions throughout New Zealand.

Entries are open for the 2018 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Farmers and growers can enter online at All farmers and horticulturists, including orchardists, vegetable growers, and viticulturists are eligible to enter.

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