Horizons Winners

Owners and Sharemilkers David and Adrienne Hopkins and Ben and Belinda Price

Horizons BFEA Supreme Winners

David and Adrienne Hopkins (Harkaway Trust)

Ben and Belinda Price (Price Trusts Partnerships)


Owners and Sharemilkers David and Adrienne Hopkins and Ben and Belinda Price are the Supreme Winner of the 2016 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

David and Adrienne purchased their flat to rolling contoured property south of Waverley in 1993, converting it to a dairy farm which the award judges described as “an outstanding place to live and work”. Ben and Belinda are in their second season 50:50 sharemilking their 680 cows there.

Clearly, the working relationship the two couples share is effective and appreciated by all, including the judges who suggested, “the owners and sharemilkers are very good ambassadors for New Zealand agriculture”.

The judges noted the motivation to enter these awards was a combined one and commented “Congratulations must go to both parties on the standard of the farm.They are all enthusiastic about the farm and the environment. The appearance of the farm and high level of maintenance reflects the hard work and passion of Dave and Adrienne over the long term and is demonstrated also by Ben and Belinda currently.”

This is Ben and Belinda’s third 50:50 sharemilking position, a big step up from their previous 250-cow job, but one that is working very well say the Hopkins’, who have firm environmental values in place for their property. Says Dave, “Ben and Belinda don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk”.

There is a low System 2 feeding operation in place. “It’s the best system for all of us,” says Belinda, “This is the way we like to farm”.

Last season production was 242,362 kgMS. Cows and weaners are all wintered on the 235ha (effective) farm. Only replacements are grazed off for a year. Contour spreading of fertiliser is undertaken to improve utilisation and the 65ha area that has effluent spread receives no urea. A six hectare area of maize planted within the effluent block this year is being closely monitored and the effluent is now being tested to ensure optimum nutrient management.

But this year’s maize crop didn’t just have something in it for the cows. Sweetcorn for human consumption was also planted there, to be enjoyed by the Hopkins and Price families and the farm’s two full-time and one part-time employees, families and friends.

A further new maize crop initiative this season has been the planting of sunflowers around the edges. Apart from looking spectacular, these have been sold to a Whanganui florist with all the proceeds going to Waverley School, which Hayden (9) and Tobi (7) Price attend.

Some of the school’s students have been willing participants planting parts of a new wetland area being created on the farm. “The children who planted in the first spring really enjoyed coming back last spring and seeing how their plants had grown,” says Belinda.

This so called “artificial” wetland is a selffunded project which, although in a drained part of the farm, is designed to sit in the contours of the land, where wetland once was. Initially it is planned to spread over about half a hectare. “We’ve had some academics come in to help us. We don’t have to do it but it is of interest,” says Dave. “We don’t know how effective it will be until we can begin measuring, but we are hoping it will absorb and filter 70 percent of our nitrates and phosphates and eliminate sediment run off.”

The judges described the biodiversity on the farm as “outstanding”. There are only two trees on the property that were not planted on the Hopkins’ watch. Planting shelter belts and native areas has been a family task and included their four now-adult children, Nigel, Matthew, Stewart and Fiona.

Both first generation dairy farmers, Dave and Adrienne worked their way up the dairy farming pathway before eventually buying Harkaway. Even at the time of purchase 23 years ago, they had very clear ideas about their environmental responsibilities. Despite there being no infrastructure or housing, their first priority was to obtain consent for an efficient effluent disposal system, which they have been fine-tuning ever since.

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