Environmental leadership in dairy farming

Dairy category winners in the 2022 Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Awards.

Category sponsor: Fonterra(external link)

Tony and Lorraine Lash  - for environmental stewardship and improving ecosystem health through riparian fencing and planting and efforts to encourage biodiversity.

Tony and Lorraine Lash are leading by example on their Stratford dairy farm with 100% of their farm’s riparian margins now fenced and planted. Their riparian journey began more than 20 years ago and since then they have put in 11,430 plants and 8.5km of fencing, protecing nearly 17km of stream banks. The couple have retired the hillsides at the back of the farm to encourage biodiversity, slope stability and the protection of waterways. There are wide buffers around waterways and drains have also been planted. The planting has helped to improve biodiversity on the farm. Tony and Lorraine, who run about 350 cows each season, regularly hold discussions with other dairy farmers to keep up to date with improvements in the dairy sector. Silage wrap and chemicals are disposed of responsibly, effluent is spread on land and they’re controlling possums on the property.

Brent and Debbie Rawlinson - for environmental stewardship and improving ecosystem health through riparian fencing and planting and efforts to improve biodiversity.

Brent and Debbie Rawlinson are going above and beyond at their farm in Ngaere near Stratford with the protection of wetlands and wide riparian buffer zones around waterways. Around 4.7km of stream banks have riparian planting using more than 10,000 plants and all areas of the farm have been fenced. They have eradicated crack willows from waterways to improve biodiversity, cut the impact from flooding and reduced carbon loading to the streams and tributaries. Stock exclusions have lowered the amount of sediment going into waterways and they’ve retired hillsides from grazing while undertaking riparian planting to boost biodiversity and protect wetlands. The property is leased to neighbouring dairy farmers Eddie and Diane Jenkins who are following the Rawlinsons’ example by widening margins and planting around streams.

Damian, Jane and Jack Roper - for outstanding contributions to restoring biodiversity and efforts to plant native trees, control predators and maintain the quality of freshwater.

Damian and Jane Roper and their son Jack are on a mission to restore biodiversity and return native birds to homes and farms across Taranaki. The owners of a dairy farm in Alton in South Taranaki, the family are committed to using Māori values and have created a pā stockade to protect their gardens and native tree seedling nurseries. They’ve planted around 18,000 indigenous trees in 15 years and worked with Taranaki Regional Council to restore a damaged bush block, which is now classed as a Key Native Ecosystem and protected under a QEII Trust covenant. The Ropers have regenerated a 2.5ha lake and water quality on the farm is checked by an independent ecologist. Surveys have shown an explosion in water boatman numbers. Predator control is important to the family with Damian working with the Pātea Catchment Group and the farm has held pest trapping workshops with Te Kaahui o Rauru. The family are passionate about returning kiwi to the Tarere Conservation Area, working with the Taranaki Kiwi Trust to create a trapping plan for the local community. The Ropers also work with Taranaki Catchment Communities and Ngāti Ruanui.