Thursday, April 25, 2024

Cyclone-hit farm rises to take Ballance award

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Beamish family guided by research on their WhanaWhana Valley spread.
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A Hawke’s Bay farm devastated by Cyclone Gabrielle has bounced back to win the supreme award at the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Simon, Josi, Hugo and Pip Beamish of Awapai were announced as the winners at an event in Gisborne.

Awapai, which is in the WhanaWhana Valley, west of Hastings, is a 2100 hectare (1625ha effective) slice of the family’s original 7910ha property. 

The grazing and finishing farm runs about 5500 breeding ewes, 3700 trade lambs, 850 beef cattle, 300 bulls and 300 Wagyu beef cattle. All animals are finished on farm except for the Wagyu.

The judges were impressed with the use of innovation, technology and modern ideas, all implemented within the framework of a well-established and enduring family business.

Research guides the approach to farming, with Simon and Hugo matching land class to appropriate and sustainable use, and carefully managing soils. They strive for excellence when it comes to animal welfare, ultimately targeting international markets with quality products. There is plenty of shelter for the healthy stock, which enjoy a diverse range of feed.

Awapai was severely impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle and a significant amount of work has gone into reinstating the farm’s infrastructure. Improving the farm system’s resilience has been another focus, including having forestry on steep marginal country, and planting poplar and willow on grazed country where erosion can be managed.

To preserve and enhance native biodiversity on the property – which features five QEII National Trust Covenant blocks – there has been significant planting in and around wetlands and riparian areas. The larger of the covenants has recently been deer fenced and Josi runs an ongoing pest control programme. Hugo and Simon are striving to ensure that all water leaving the property passes through retired areas, which are closely managed to reduce nutrients and sediment.

As they look to the future, the Beamish family are actively working on a succession plan, and strive to improve the land for the next generation so it continues to bring both pleasure and prosperity to the family.

In awarding the Regional Supreme Award, the judges noted that the Beamish family are not afraid of innovation, and have positioned themselves to achieve premiums for their meat and wool products through producer supply programmes, which demand high environmental and biodiversity outcomes.

The Beamish family also won the following awards:

• Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award

• Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award

• Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award

• NZFET Innovation Award

Other East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Award winners include:

Jeremy and Laura Watson – Monowai Farming Ltd, Waimata Valley

• Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award

• NZFET Biodiversity Award

Ben and Libby Tosswill – Birch Hill Station, Pōrangahau

• Norwood Farming Efficiency Award

• East Coast Farming for the Future Award

• NZFET Climate Recognition Award

Bruce and Sally McGregor – Pakaututu Limited, Puketitiri

• Rabobank Agri-Business Management Award

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