Becks and Richard Tosswill. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Passionate farmers win top environment award

An innovative Gladstone couple have claimed a top environment award for their passion for change to secure the future of the country’s farming.

Richard and Becks Tosswill won the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Award on Wednesday night at the Carterton Events Centre.

They have been farming at Te Awa Awa on their 646-hectare sheep and beef farm for the past decade.

Described as a “forward-thinking” couple by the award’s judges, the Tosswills have created an efficient rural business.

The couple farm 3000 Texel-cross ewes, with all hoggets mated, and 100 Angus breeding cows with 20 to 25 replacements mated and calved as
two-year-olds.

The judges said Mr Tosswill was a strong believer in stock health and had an advanced health plan using technology to track and gather stock information.

Part of their philosophy is to balance the farm income stream with off-farm income, with investment in property infrastructure, such as covered yards, paying dividends.

“We wanted to make things more efficient and also knew the covered yards would keep both us and stock out of the sun in summer, and rain and mud in the winter.

“We also installed a sprinkler system in the yards to keep the dust down to help prevent pleurisy in our lambs.

“That alone can drop the temperature five or six degrees on a really hot summer’s day.”

They dedicated 12.5ha erosion-prone land to the regional council’s afforestation scheme.

A sediment dam was developed to help reduce the amount of sediment entering the waterways and any run-off from the cattle yards further up the valley.

They have also put two small blocks of limestone spring wetland areas into QEII National Trust covenants.

The Tosswills do a lot more than farming, being a busy family with three children, Isabella 9, Sam 7, and Sophia, 4.

Mrs Tosswill is a graphic designer and has a team of design contractors working for her business, Farmer’s Daughter Design Studio, which she launched in 2009.

She is a member of the Gladstone School fundraising committee and has completed the Agri-Women’s Development Trust foundation course, All About You.

Mr Tosswill is the chairman of Wairarapa Farming for Profit committee, and has taken on a Wairarapa Innovation Farm trial around establishing clover on uncultivatable East Coast hill country.

As well as winning the regional supreme award, the Tosswills won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award.

Other award winners:
* Featherston dairy farm, 652ha Kaiwaiwai Diaries Ltd won The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, CB Norwood Distributors Ltd Agri-Business Management Award, Dairy NZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award, Massey University Innovation Award and the Waterforce Integrated Management Award.

* Martinborough vineyard Dry River Wines, managed by chief wine maker Wilco Lam, won the Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award.

* The Akura Conservation Centre Lifestyle Farm Award went to Hayden McGrail and Lyn Tankersley, who have owned Forest Home in Kiriwhakapapa Road, Mount Bruce, since 1982.

* The Predator Free Farm Award went to a lifestyle block entry from Ted and Eileen Ward of Greytown.