Environmental leadership in dairy farming

Dairy category winners in the 2020 Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Awards.

Category sponsor: Fonterra(external link)

PKW Farms LP - for proactively minimising environmental risk and improving environmental performance through sustainable farming practices.

The environment is a key part of PKW Farms’ commitment to deliver on the long-term aspirations of its owners and future generations. Milking 7,000 cows across 13 dairy units, it has kaitiakitanga among its four core values. A Kaitiakitanga Strategy sets out a pathway that includes sustained commitment to streamside fencing and planting, retiring wetland areas, heavy investment in effluent systems, strict management of nutrient use and even its own water-quality testing regime. It’s already reduced water use by millions of litres a year, and is working through the final stages of its riparian management plans. Attention is now turning to wetlands and Key Native Ecosystems. All shareholders and stakeholders are given clear messages on the importance of this work.

Vintage Farm Trust - for developing innovative technologies to improve water quality, soil and ecosystem health.

Dairy farmer Allan Marx is truly a grassroots environmentalist. He carefully selects his pasture species to ensure the soil stays healthy and nutrient leaching risks are reduced. And using new technology to apply liquid fertiliser, he’s halved his use of conventional fertiliser in half while still growing high-quality grass. Allan’s also fenced and planted nearly five kilometres of streambank, with only about 500 metres remaining. This makes an outstanding contribution to water quality. His plantings include an impressive stand of kauri, tōtara, rimu and other native species. The 127-hectare farm west of Ngāere is also notable for its older, well-maintained machinery – reflecting Allan’s commitment to ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. His environmental commitment is evident in techniques and equipment across all aspects of farm operations.

Helms RJ Family Trust - for environmental stewardship and improving ecosystem health through riparian, wetland and native habitat enhancement.

Streamside fencing and planting is major focus for all the family on Rohan Helms’ 135 hectare dairy farm milking 260 cows on the outskirts of Rāhotu, with a 35ha runoff just out of Egmont Village. The whole family are all heavily involved and jointly responsible for the planting programme. They all own it. It’s a long-term project that’s getting good results. Around 5.7 kilometres of streambank has already been protected, helping to improve water quality in the Pungaereere, Waitaha and Waiwhakaiho catchments. Fencing and planting riparian margins keeps stock out of waterways, cuts down run-off and encourages native biodiversity. The Helms also dispose of effluent to land on a large scale, and have carried out regenerative planting on the farm.

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