A husband-and-wife “super team” has secured the title of the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year at the 2016 finals held tonight (Wednesday 16 November).
Chief Judge Nicky Hyslop says that Neil and Lyn Campbell won the judges’ praise with the “efficient, incredibly flexible and adaptive” approach to the way they have developed their dryland property. Their focus has been on systems that allow them to pursue activities that generate the most profit at the most effective point of time, with land stewardship always the foundation of their decisions.
The Campbells’ farm consists of 769ha of rolling hills and flats in Middle Valley near Fairlie in South Canterbury, producing sheep, deer breeding and finishing, and a variety of crops.
Speaking to the secret of their success, Neil Campbell said, “we can’t compete on the basis of volume and, likewise, we aren’t big enough to compete by going straight to the market. Therefore our best option is to deliver each product at the time when it is most profitable.”
Hyslop said that when Neil and Lyn moved to their property their aim from the start was to be in the top ten percent of producers. They not only changed how the property was run, they instigated detailed analysis systems so every aspect of the farm operations could be measured and compared against key performance indicators.
“Neil and Lynn use accurate data to validate their decisions,” Hyslop said, “there’s no reliance on hunches or assumptions. Hard data is analysed to compare and choose between the different enterprises on the farm.”
Hyslop added that the farm’s small paddock sizes also allowed for specialist crops to be grown – such as oat and grass seed, and rape seed for oil – for maximum return.
“We go from summer dry valley floor to higher altitude moist hill country,” Neil Campbell explained. “Some of the things we are doing at altitude are more common at sea level, like growing crops. The diversity of our business gives us strong balance environmentally and financially.”
In the future, the Campbell’s hope that the farm remains in the family and the judges noted the succession planning they had in place. Their aim is for a sustainable and environmentally compatible farm producing highly nutritious food.
“Our biggest and most important goal is to continue to enjoy what we do,” Neil Campbell said. “Farming is a fantastic industry; if we can be part of telling that story and encouraging the younger generation into the industry we would be most satisfied.”
The Campbells win a $20,000 travel grant for study and/or to further their business.
Four special category prizes of $500 each were also awarded tonight. They were:
- The Silver Fern Farms “plate to pasture” award for the best consumer awareness by a red meat farmer: Neil and Lynn Campbell
- The Lincoln University prize for best use of new technology and innovation: James Dicey, Ceres Wines
- The Farmlands prize for best on and off -farm resource management: James Dicey, Ceres Wines
- The Lincoln University Foundation award for human resource management, Mendip Hills Station (Simon and Miesha Lee).
The Lincoln University Foundation will host a winner’s field day at the Campbell’s Fairlie property early in 2017 (date to be confirmed).