Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Top farm is 100 not out

Avatar photo
Fraser and Shelley Avery, Bonavaree, have taken out top place in the Westpac Bayleys Marlborough Sheep and Beef Farmer of the Year 2019 and a $32,000 prize package.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Together with Fraser’s parents Doug and Wendy Avery, the inter-generational farm partnership first made award headlines in 2010, winning South Island Farmer of the Year.

Since then the business has grown in scale to 2232 hectares (effective) and six staff but the successful recipe around direct grazing of lucerne has not changed. 

Doug and Wendy have moved off the farm but maintain an interest and Fraser runs the business while Shelley has started working full-time for St John Ambulance.

Bonavaree runs a highly productive, mixed-age flock of 4700 ewes lambing 141% and 1500 head of cows and trading cattle. 

The judges described the economic farm surplus as very high. Judging was based on finances, land resource management, animal performance, community and business management/resilience.

Fraser said the win was part of a really special year with the Avery family marking 100 years of farming near Lake Grassmere this month and Fraser celebrating his 40th birthday.

“We came second in the competition to a better farm business in 2016 but we like to be challenged and I credit the win this year to my family and staff.

“I’m really passionate about promoting good farming stories so that is why I entered. We need to sell our stories.”

He was disappointed there were only two entries so will be getting into his mates to enter next time. He thanked the sponsors and said that, as a farmer, it doesn’t go unnoticed. 

“We try to support those who give.”

Second place went to Warwick and Lisa Lissaman, Breach Oak, Seddon. 

Judges listed some of their strengths as a 50% increase in gross farm income achieved in three years and their land resource management including environmental and biosecurity plans and riparian management.

Westpac area agribusiness manager Richard Borrell said that, as one of the judges, it is inspiring and very motivating to hear from cutting-edge farmers.

“The intergenerational story at Bonavaree is a really successful one. 

“They have grown their business using a simple recipe that can be taken up and applied by farm staff beyond that key person. It’s not too complex.”

Bayleys Marlborough director Glenn Dick said he likes the way the Averys were entrants previously and took their learnings and made improvements then had the confidence to enter again and win.

“It shows a great attitude.”

A public field day to profile the Avery farm business and the competition will be held at Bonavaree next autumn. Topics are likely to include governance, management systems, positioning yourself in the right head-space and people management as well as lucerne and livestock systems.

“I’m looking forward to it and it won’t be a standard field day. It will be about cultivating a positive head space to see the opportunities.”

People are also reading