An International Grasslands Conference in Ireland five years ago convinced opened my farmer’s eyes to New Zealand’s natural advantages – the climate and soils which help us grow good pasture.
It also confirmed the already positive view he had of Grasslands Association as an organisation.
Farmers tend to be good adopters of science because it’s generally easy to apply findings and measure the benefits. Grasslands’ conferences brings together scientists and farmers for their mutual benefit.
At the conference dinner last week I was immediately struck by the mutual respect scientists and farmers had for each other and the positive atmosphere. It was great to be somewhere where farming is valued, appreciated and celebrated.
A highlight of the dinner was the presentation of the Grasslands Trust Awards.
The Ray Brougham Trophy for an outstanding national contribution to the New Zealand grassland industry went to John McKenzie, general manager of Wrightson Seeds.
The Regional Award for exceptional effort above and beyond the normal career contribution that supports the regional pastoral agricultural industry, be it technology development or an aspect of farming itself, went to Andy Macfarlane. He runs his own consulting firm, Macfarlane Rural Business, among many other contributions to farming.
The Farming Awards are given in recognition of high performance pastoral farming and adoption of new technologies. The criteria includes:
- Good grassland farming – an impressive, profitable grassland-based business, run for at least five years on the property.
- Innovative approach – using the latest grassland technology effectively.
- Sustainable management – a good degree of sustainability in the enterprise and a strong responsibility for environmental matters.
- Communication skills – passing on good grassland farming skills to others in the region, and including local community activity.
These were won by Craig and Ros Mckenzie who farm at Methven, and my farmer.
The certificate says: The presentation of this honour is a just tribute to outstanding ability and confidence in the potential of NZ’s greatest industry – Grassland Farming.
My farmer is quietly chuffed by the honour and I’m basking in reflected glory.