Finalists in Ballance Horizons Region farm environment awards chosen

By Staff Reporter

Ohotu Station is managed by Dean Francois (centre). Photo / Supplied
Ohotu Station is managed by Dean Francois (centre). Photo / Supplied

Finalists in this year's Ballance Farm Environment Awards include two sheep and beef farms owned by two of Whanganui's Māori incorporations.

The awards night will be March 15, at the Palmerston North racecourse. The supreme winner there will go up against 10 other regional winners at national finals in Wellington.

One of the Horizons Region finalists is Ohotu Station, owned by the Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation and managed by Dean Francois. It is 15km east of Ohakune, with 1450ha of mainly flat to rolling land.

It takes stock bred on the incorporation's breeding stations and raises them to saleable weight on pasture or forage crops. It also provides some grazing for nearby AWHI Dairy.

The farm is 1450ha, and can support 30,000 stock during summer, fewer in winter. Mr Francois is helped on farm by Alfred Alabaster and Daniel Richards.

The other sheep and beef farm up for an award is the 2736ha Morikau Station and its lease blocks. They are near the Whanganui River Rd, between Ranana and Jerusalem. The land is rolling to steep, with 2590ha farmable.

It is stocked with Hereford and Angus cattle, and Romney sheep.

Managed by Hamish and Katrina Thompson, it is overseen by a supervisor and has six full-time staff plus casual staff and contractors. The owners are the Morikaunui Incorporation's 2500 shareholders.

The governance body is a board of seven, and the incorporation was founded by Whanganui's Dr Rangitakuku Mete Kingi in 1955.

Alistair Timothy and Rachel Joblin have the other sheep and beef/forestry finalist property. Their Arklow farm is a mix of flat, rolling and steep hill country near Pongaroa in the Wairarapa.

The two have retired 29ha into trees, and are installing drainage in the heavy soil. They do bull breeding, bull trading and sheep breeding, and aim to finish 75 per cent of their lambs.

They are doing a lot of farm development, including new subdivision and raceways.

Two dairy farms are among the finalists. Andrew Hardie and Helen Long's Te Maunga Farms is near Dannevirke, in one of Horizons' priority catchments.

Te Maunga Farms has been in the same ownership for a long time, and has been on once a day milking for 10 seasons. The land is flat to easy hill, and 120ha is irrigated.

Lance and Katherine Gillespie's farm in Table Flat Rd near Apiti has a flat milking platform of 145ha. The farm is a mix of owned, leased and swapped land and supports a herd of 360 crossbred cows.

The two aim for high production and healthy cows, and achieve that by maintaining a healthy soil and high quality pasture. They seek out new technology, and test it in their business.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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