Central Plains Water Ltd Central Plains Water Ltd

Winner Ballance Farm Environmental Awards 2020.

Environment, animals, people, and the economy go hand in hand.

Dunsandel farmer and ex-CPWL board member Tony Coltman embodies a sustainability philosophy that harmonises the environment, animals, people, and the economy into one holistic package. This exceptional approach led Tony and his wife, Dana Carver, to be honoured as the 2020 Canterbury Supreme winners in the Ballance Farm Environment awards.

Across their combined 800-hectare farms, Canlac Dairy, Tallarook Dairy and Quantum Dairy, Tony and Dana care for 3,300 dairy cows, managed as an equity partnership. Despite not coming from a farming background, Tony’s unwavering passion for farming led him to pursue his lifelong dream. He studied at Lincoln University, earning a BCom in Agriculture and a Diploma in Farm Management before embarking on a career in rural banking. He eventually went to the United States and took over a dairy operation.

Tony’s dedication to sustainability is evident in his achievements, including a remarkable 48% reduction in nitrogen leaching while maintaining farm profitability and productivity. These gains were made possible through improved irrigation practices, altered feeding regimes, reduced nitrogen usage, and implementing products with lower nitrogen content. Ensuring the well-being of their livestock is a top priority, accompanied by a strategic breeding program to maximise the genetic potential of their high-quality herd.

Tony actively participates in the Dairy NZ-led Foragers for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) program, which aims to develop innovative approaches and technologies for reducing nitrate leaching across various farming systems. By joining this cross-sector initiative, Tony and Dana gained valuable insights and practical solutions to the nitrate challenge. By implementing changes such as introducing fodder beet and plantain, expanding the farm area, utilising feed pads, and reducing imported supplements and nitrogen fertilisers, they have showcased their commitment to sustainable farming practices.

Beyond their efforts, Tony and Dana firmly believe in the power of collective action, which is why they have been involved with Central Plains Water Limited (CPWL) since Stage 1 of the scheme. They recognise the significant benefits of a cooperative approach, emphasising the value of shared resources and the ability to make meaningful environmental contributions. As a testament to Tony’s governance expertise, he serves on the CPWL Board and has held positions on the Board of Ruralco, bringing strong leadership and strategic insights to these roles.

For Tony, CPWL represents an intergenerational and sustainable operation, preserving and valuing the precious resource of run-of-river water. The scheme offers economies of scale and empowers members to add value in the environmental arena. Tony envisions that the true benefits of CPWL’s approach will become even more evident in the long run—a testament to their commitment to a prosperous and sustainable future.