Leading the way

Leading the way: The family dairy farm focused on sustainability

Leading the way: The family dairy farm focused on sustainability
Leading the way: The family dairy farm focused on sustainability
<p>Over 100 years ago the Torrens family purchased land in Waihi, where they established a Friesian Stud dairy herd before expanding into the Waikato. They now own a 206 hectare dairy farm, run as an equity partnership between Ross and Jenni, and their two sons and their families: Nick and Sarah, Sam and Kate, and five young children. Running a family business has inspired them to undertake a number of sustainability measures to ensure the land is still there for the next generation:</p> <p>&quot;We hope that our children will be sitting here down the track, getting the same advantages and opportunities from the land as we have,&quot; Sam said.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Positive impact for the environment</h3> <p>The original farm is now used to run young stock and grow supplementary dairy feed. They also own their own maize block at Manawaru and together with their Waihi farm, this allows them to create a circular business where they grow almost everything they need to keep their farming business self-contained.&nbsp;</p> <p>They have made an exception to their business model by purchasing 300 tonnes of food waste destined for refuse to use as stock food. Considering that over a third of the food we produce ends up in landfill, this is an ingenious way of both reusing waste and reducing the farm's carbon footprint.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We control the environment that our feed comes from, which means we can create buffers and fence waterways to keep them clean, together with reduced nitrogen leaching and effluent compliance It also means we have control over the supply and costing,&quot; Nick says.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Leading with pride</h3> <p>The Torrens family's environmentally-friendly and business savvy approach eventually attracted them to join Synlait and their Lead with Pride programme, which recognises and rewards farmers who follow dairy farming best practices.</p> <p>In 2021, the Torrens family were awarded Synlait's ‘Lead with Pride Supreme Award', which recognises excellence in sustainability, milk quality, social responsibility, and animal welfare.&nbsp; Sam says it all comes down to doing things the right way, not the easy way:</p> <p>&quot;It would be great to produce more milk solids but that's not the full story. We need to achieve our production goals in a way that doesn't hurt the environment.&quot;</p> <h3>Progressive partners for a challenging future</h3> <p>The Torrens family know they have challenges on the horizon. Nick says running a farm with Friesian cows and rye grass is becoming difficult:</p> <p>&quot;Friesian cows like cool weather so we need to figure out a way to adapt our business to longer summers.&quot;</p> <p>Sam says another challenge is managing the changes in their equity partnership:</p> <p>&quot;Our partnership with Mum and Dad has been really successful. But in the future Ross and Jenni will take a step back and that's something we'll have to navigate. A succession plan, once established, is not something you place to one side. It's a working partnership, one that requires trust, communication and respect.&quot;<br> </p> <p>The Torrens farm is forever adapting to new challenges and striving to improve their farming practices. Having close partners to support them makes all the difference:</p> <p>&quot;ASB has always been very supportive of us achieving our goals. The Rural team is progressive and forward thinking - they're very involved in our business and they've shown trust in us to carry out our plan,&quot; Sam says.</p> <p>As part of their partnership with ASB, the Torrens used an ASB Rural Sustainability Loan to help meet their sustainability goals. ASB's Rural Sustainability Loan is just one of the ways ASB is helping farmers and growers to improve their farms' environmental footprint.</p> <p>ASB's General Manager for Rural Ben Speedy says: &quot;While environmental practises might require on farm uplift, it's clear when we speak to our customers, they have an appetite for this; the drive to be on the right side of history is in Kiwis' DNA. It's encouraging seeing farmers like the Torrens family seizing opportunities to benefit the environment and future generations.&quot;</p> <p>For more information on ASB's Rural Sustainability Loan visit <a title="Rural Sustainability Loan" href="/content/asb/business-loans/en/business-loans/rural-sustainability-loan.html" target="_self">asb.co.nz/ruralsustainability</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><i>This article was first published on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/agribusiness/126457425/leading-the-way-the-family-dairy-farm-focused-on-sustainability" target="_blank" title="Stuff.co.nz">stuff.co.nz</a></i></p>