Waikari deer farming couple win regional water quality award

Waikari deer and sheep farmers Lyndon and Millie Matthews have been awarded the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award at the regional Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) in Christchurch on Wednesday (5 April) night.

The award judges noted the family “take huge pride in their farm environment and have, over many years, enhanced and protected its sensitive areas and natural values.”

They added that the couple has built a farm system that suits their environment in a drought-prone area. Ordinarily the 267ha farm winters 3000 stock units (su), however the recent prolonged drought drove that down to 2400su and this winter they are planning on carrying 2800su.

They have used forages that tolerate the dry better than ryegrass and management decisions such as early weaning have benefited both the livestock, which consistently perform above industry averages, and the environment.

Judges also noted the family’s commitment to excellent farm stewardship, including the protection and enhancement of sensitive areas such as limestone outcrops and wetlands. Gullies and water courses have also been fenced off and planting programmes are underway.

Lyndon and Millie’s children are committed to the family tradition of planting and have long-term plans to continue this work.

“The theme that keeps coming through for us is this is an intergenerational family farm,” says Lyndon. He adds that their son Eldon, who is in his final year gaining a BComAg at Lincoln University, has long been very focused on the environment.

Eldon has prepared a comprehensive farm environment plan which is used to underpin management decisions and is in conjunction with management software which tracks all stock performance and records.

Environment Canterbury Chair David Bedford, who presented the Water Quality Award, said entrants needed to demonstrate they were aware of the impact their operation had on water quality, and to have taken deliberate steps to manage this.

“Lyndon and Millie Matthews have demonstrated that good sustainable farm management can also be good for business.

“By developing and implementing farm environment plans and utilising technology, famers can improve productive capacity while at the same time reducing environmental effects by doing things like fencing and planting along sensitive areas.

“Environment Canterbury congratulates all entrants in these awards for their vision and leadership to put new ideas into practice,” said David Bedford.

The Matthews family also won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, with the Supreme Award going to John, Peter and Charles Douglas-Clifford’s North Canterbury sheep, beef and deer breeding and finishing farm “Stonyhurst Property”.

A BFEA Supreme-winner field day will be held at the Stonyhurst Property, with the date to be advised.

For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Canterbury regional coordinator Kaylene Fenton at canterbury@bfea.org.nz or 021 028 71318 or visit www.bfea.org.nz.