Land management category winners in the 2020 Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Awards.
Category sponsor: Corteva Agriscience(external link)
C and J McCowan Partnership - for outstanding effort protecting and improving the environment through sustainable land management and farming practices.
Steep slopes, high rainfall and erodible soils may seem considerable challenges, but sustainable and profitable farming is still possible. Campbell and Jodene McCowan work hard to achieve it on their 118-hectare frontal hill-country farm at Huiroa, inland from Stratford. By using their TRC Farm Plan and with assistance via the STRESS erosion scheme, the McCowans are reducing threats to water quality from soil erosion and flooding. They're planting scores of poplar and willow poles to hold soil, fencing and retiring some steeper land, with some pine establishment. And they actively manage stock and pasture use to minimise pugging. As well as protecting the environment, these measures offer options to diversify income and allow their land to be more productive.
Karawhaka Poultry - for going above and beyond to minimise environmental impacts through the use of sustainable business practices and improving the environment through the planting of native trees.
Chickens aren’t the only birdlife on Nev and Maryanne Wells’ Karawhaka Poultry farm at Lepperton. Native and exotic bird species are thriving as a result of an extensive planting effort, along with trapping to control rats, possums and stoats. The Wells wanted to completely screen the farm to reduce their environmental footprint. They’ve already paid for and planted 15,000 square metres, with another 10,000 planned. They’re amazed at the burgeoning birdlife, and the reduction in dust. The trees will also create corridors between existing stands of native bush on the wider farm. Community and youth groups are helping with the plantings as a fundraiser. The Wells have also installed a new bund system to better manage stormwater and wash-down water.
Aorere Farms – Ross and Grant Skilton - for outstanding efforts to protect native flora and fauna through effective land management and the use of trapping technology.
Ross and Grant Skilton have North Island brown kiwi on their property, and they're working hard to ensure their survival. The iconic species have been detected in a 123-hectare native forest on their 307-hectare drystock and piggery unit in the Waitōtara catchment. Under their TRC Biodiversity Plan, they've covenanted the forest and are undertaking intensive predator control. It’s challenging terrain, even for the high-tech traps they're using. Ross is working closely with the Council and trap-makers to iron out wrinkles. He’s also reduced wild goat and pig numbers together with neighbouring landowners, and spreading the word about farming sustainably and looking after native biodiversity. To protect water quality, they’ve retired erosion-prone land to reduce sedimentation, all part of their TRC Comprehensive Farm Plan.
Nick and Conna Smith – Milkoad Ltd - for outstanding effort protecting and improving the environment through sustainable land management and farming practices.
Nick and Conna Smith made the environment an important priority when they took over a 171-hectare terrace-hillcountry block east of Waverley to run in conjunction with the family dairy farm at Pātea. They picked up a pre-existing TRC Farm Plan for the property and two years later it’s all but complete. With support from the STRESS erosion scheme they’ve erected 1500 metres of fences to retire 84 hectares of native bush, 29 hectares of reversion and 4.8ha of pine forestry on highly-erodible land. They’ve also stabilised soil in the easier hillcountry land by planting 100 poplar and willow poles. These allow grazing to continue but reduce the risk of eroded sediment contaminating waterways and making floods more likely. The pines diversify their income.