Thursday, 23 July 2015

Farm's nutrient run-off management leads to national award

John and Catherine Ford from Rotorua are the proud winners of the National Ballance Farm Environment Award this year, the first North Island and first sheep and cattle property to achieve that honour.

The Fords own the 1240ha Highlands Station, a hill-country farm sitting within the Lake Tarawera and Rotokakahi catchments and covered in phosphate-rich mud. The Fords say the careful and responsible management of nutrient runoff is one of the most critical farm issues to get right. They have a network of almost 200 retention dams that reduce runoff and scouring during heavy rainfall.

Last year the farm's scheme was tested by the biggest rainfall in 10 years. The dams held the water in the upper catchments and were effective in retaining water and reducing sediment loss.

John was a very active participant in Motu’s AgDialogue group and prior to that in the Lake Rotorua Dialogue group. He stars in the water quality films made in 2012 about the complexities of the Lake Rotorua catchment.

Part of the prize is a study trip overseas. The Fords are considering looking at some sensitive catchments in North America such as Wisconsin and the Chesapeake Bay or Great Lakes catchments.

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