Dan and Mandy Shand of Island Hills Station near Culverden have scooped the Supreme and Environment Canterbury Habitat Improvement awards at the Canterbury regional Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
The couple were presented with the top prize by Primary Industries Minister David Carter and the Habitat Award by Environment Canterbury Commissioner Tom Lambie at a ceremony in Christchurch on 29 March.
The award judges described Dan and Mandy as “an innovative couple making a tough high country farm profitable through intelligent, balanced diversification”.
The couple’s business, covering 6800 hectares, involves wintering 3200 stock units of sheep and beef, beekeeping for manuka honey, and a tourism venture. They both grew up on farms but confessed “very little” farming experience when they took over the property from Dan’s parents in 2007.
The judges’ comments focused on the couple’s high level of innovation in beekeeping and farm machinery; their constant quest to upskill themselves; their intelligent management of fragile soils, sensitive scrub clearance, regular soil testing and minimum tillage; lack of grazing pressure on valuable areas with native plant species; a large QEII covenanted area, and excellent use of capital invested in difficult land.
Presenting the Habitat Improvement award, Tom Lambie said extensive community involvement in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy highlighted a key community concern, the declining health of our rivers and loss of native biodiversity.
“Environment Canterbury is committed to working with farmers and other rural people to reverse this,” he said.
“Canterbury is a region rich in biodiversity, and through our Immediate Steps programme we have made $10 million available over five years to support communities as we work to improve freshwater quality.
“I congratulate all the entrants in these awards, and particularly Dan and Mandy, for their leadership in this area.” Mr Lambie praised the couple for “creating and highlighting good examples that can be used to educate others”.
As well as all the other challenges they face, the Shands have two young children children, Amalia (5) and Hugh (2).
Environment Canterbury Habitat Improvement Award – Canterbury
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are designed to encourage farmers to support and adopt sustainable farming practices.
The Environment Canterbury Habitat Improvement Award is for “special places” of habitat that have been protected or created to enhance the farm business.
The habitat may add value by protecting stock or crops from adverse weather or by adding to the diversity of the farm. It may include trees or other plantings, wetlands created or restored or unique characteristics of the land or area protected from stock or predators.
For more information on the awards overall and the 2012 winners, go to www.bfea.org.nz