Greater Wellington Predator Free Farm Award Winners
Before Wilson and Barbara McGillivray could tackle the stoats, rats and possums on their newly purchased avocado orchard, they had to remove the 2000 car wrecks, countless abandoned household appliances and other rubbish that littered the property. Nowadays the wrecks have gone, they have stoat and rat traps placed throughout the orchard and in 2016 a pest contractor removed 31 possums from the orchard surrounds in just three nights.
Wilson and Barbara are the Bay of Plenty regional winners of the Predator Free Farm Award and own Awatea Orchard in Katikati. The Predator Free Farm Award has been introduced for the first time this year as part of the annual Ballance Farm Environment Awards and recognises farmers who are making an outstanding effort in predator control.
As well as controlling predators on their property, Wilson and Barbara have planted a mix of native and exotics to help retain the banks and promote biodiversity including providing food for birds, bees and other insects.
“Another bank we call our bee bank, where we have planted trees, shrubs and herbs for bees with the intention of providing a continuous food supply,” says Barbara. “One of the interesting things about avocados is we don’t know for certain that bees are the only pollinators. There might be a number of night time insects, including native moths, which pollinate the flowers and even the blowfly might have a role.”
Wilson and Barbara were presented with their award last weekend by the team from the PFNZ Trust.
The judges described David Bielski’s predator control programme as ‘outstanding’! On the two Canterbury properties that he manages – Craigmore Station and the Grange Hill Run – he has a comprehensive predator control management programme for cats, ferrets, wallabies, stoats and hedgehogs. David is the Canterbury regional winner of a the Predator Free Farm Award, part of the Ballance Farm Environment Trust Awards.
Craigmore Station is owned by the Elworthy family and includes 51 hectares of natives. Areas under QE II covenant range in size and include Maori rock art as well as a variety of ecosystems of high natural value. David has been manager for just two years, but in that time has transformed the way the properties are run, creating a diverse and sustainable farming system that emphasises biological diversity and environmental care.
Hamish and Katrina Thompson manage the Whanganui hill country property, Morikua Station, on behalf of 6,500 shareholders, governed by seven board members. The station has 28,000 stock units including ewes, hoggets, breeding cows and bull units.
In the two and half years Hamish has been there significant development has been undertaken, including satellite yards, docking yards and holding paddocks, weighing facilities, subdivision and retirement fencing and new water systems including a 12-million litre lining in a purpose-built dam catering for nearly a third of the farm. About 400ha a year is put into crop and new grass, mainly by helicopter.
A large eroding gully has been retired and planted and 600 poplar and willow poles are planted each year. Areas with significant manuka are being retired for regeneration and two areas have recently been retired with assistance of Nga Whenua Rahui. “There’s effectively 110ha of wetland and fenced-off gullies now as well as 2,187ha of bush that’s retired. Some of those bush areas have large numbers of kiwi.” More than 4,000 goats have been culled along with annual maintenance of bait stations for stoats and rats on top of Horizons Regional Council’s possum control programme. It is this great support to increase native flora and fauna that won the Thompson’s our Predator Free Farm Award. Their great farm management was also recognised with the People in Agriculture Award and the Horizons Regional Council Award (for the Integration of trees), all part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.