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Farm Environment Contest Offers Outside View Of Omarama Operation

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

4 SEPTEMBER 2008 - Sustainable farming practices and the use of specialty supply contracts helped Omarama farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil win the PPCS Livestock Farm Award in the 2007 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Subtils, who farm about 15,000 Merino ewes and 1000 beef cattle on 12,000ha Omarama Station, have continued with the same sustainable approach to farming that was used by Annabelle's parents Dick and Beth Wardell when they ran the farm.

But Richard and Annabelle have also implemented supply contracts for meat and wool. Beef is supplied to a Japanese restaurant chain through a local meat company and most of the sheep meat is sold through the same company. Almost all of the adult wool is contracted to the high-end outdoor garment manufacturer Icebreaker.

Judges for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards were impressed by how these specialist marketing opportunities added value to the high country operation. They also noted the Subtil's strong stock performance, with stock and breed type well suited to the environment, and their use of comprehensive monitoring and recording systems.

Richard says they were encouraged to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards by their fertiliser representatives and decided to give it a go.

"We were curious to see how we compared with others and see what the judges would think of what we do."

He says the judges asked questions that made them think hard about their operation. "I enjoyed that because it really stimulates the thought processes."

The outside perspective provided by the judges was enlightening and Richard says he'd recommend the experience of participating in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards to any farmer.

"Sheep and beef farming is at a fairly low ebb at the moment, but you've got to remain positive. This type of thing really helps because it challenges you to think about what you are doing and keep moving forward. If you keep on doing the same things that granddad did, you aren't going to make progress."

Richard says another benefit of being involved with the awards was the opportunity to mingle with other contestants at the awards evening. From this he has developed a network of friends he can contact to discuss ideas or seek advice

Entries for the 2009 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened on September 1, 2008 and close on October 22.

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