North Otago farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil are leading the way in irrigation excellence and environmental stewardship.
They farm fine-wool sheep and run a beef breeding and fattening operation on Omarama Station, a 12,000ha high country property in the Mackenzie Country.
Their efforts saw them recognised as finalists in the 2021 Zimmatic™ Trailblazer Sustainable Irrigation Awards.
They stood out for their willingness to embrace the challenges of irrigation and commitment to finding solutions for the benefit of their farm business and their communities.
For the Subtils, sustainable irrigation management is about implementing a development that increases productivity and profit, without having detrimental downstream effects on local water quality. Environmental stewardship and community involvement have always been a priority.
Richard and Annabelle are involved in a variety of water-related projects both on the station and in the community.
They work with local iwi on native eel protection on the Omarama Stream and partner with the local school to plant natives. They are also working with the Department of Conservation and Environment Canterbury to protect native fish in a freshwater spring downstream from the farm.
They have also established a catchment group that has held information events to promote excellence in irrigation and preserve the wider social licence of irrigators in the community.
The farming couple’s efforts made them the obvious choice for the 2021 Trailblazer Farmers Weekly – Environmental Stewardship and Community Award.
They are demonstrating to their farming peers and the wider community how irrigation done well can benefit the environment and our communities.