Marg Sutherland and Nigel Sowman with Habitat Enhancement and Landscape category sponsors Grant and Donna Robertson (Morgans Road Nursery)

THE WINNERS 2019

Marg Sutherland and Nigel Sowman of Dog Point Vineyard, with Supreme Award sponsors Gerald Hope (Marlborough Research Centre) and Dion Mundy (Plant & Food Research)

Supreme Award: Dog Point Vineyard

An organic vineyard property that demonstrates conservation with a commercial edge has won the Supreme Award at the 2017 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards.

Dog Point Vineyard near Fairhall, owned by Ivan and Marg Sutherland, is one of the largest organic vineyards in New Zealand, with 110 hectares planted in BioGro-certified vines. The rest of the 200 ha property – nearly half their land - is devoted to native bush, wetlands, open spaces, park-like plantings, orchards, vege gardens and pasture.

Grapes and wine are produced organically because the Sutherlands believe the days of heavy chemical use in the industry are numbered and they aim to be up and running with organics before pressure comes on for industry change.

While premium winegrowing earns the income, Dog Point directors Ivan and Marg Sutherland are committed to creating a diverse and attractive landscape on the former farm land. Mass plantings of native trees are attracting more tui, bellbird and kereru while introduced bird species, including the vineyard pests, appear to have decreased.

The judges said that as more shelter belts are bulldozed to make way for vineyards on the Wairau Plain, the extensive and diverse plantings at Dog Point Estate are truly inspiring.

“Their work to create native bush, open parklands, productive orchards and woodlots alongside the vineyard is a great example of biodiversity and commercial success in action,” the judges said. 

Sanford staff, from left, Grant Boyd and Darren Brown with sponsor Ian McNabb (Port Marlborough) and Sanford's Lyndon Daymond

Marine Award: Sanford, Havelock

Sanford is a significant employer in Marlborough with 185 mussel farms in the Sounds, a processing plant at Havelock, and a waste management centre next door.  

 

There’s a strong sense of innovation in the company, with staff encouraged and supported to find new ways of doing things to reduce their impact on the Marlborough Sounds environment. Examples include:

  • Developing biodegradable eco-rope to replace the plastic lashings on their farms

  • All mussel floats are recycled into plastic piping instead of going to landfill

  • Hydraulic oil for pumps and lifting gear has been replaced by a biodegradable vegetable-based oil

  • Installing BilgeKleen filters that remove 99.9% of hydrocarbons from bilge water before discharge

  • Fleet of vessels converting to new Hyundai engines that use less fuel, have lower emissions and are quieter 

     

Sanford staff, from left, Grant Boyd and Darren Brown with sponsor Ian McNabb (Port Marlborough) and Sanford's Lyndon Daymond

Marine Award: Sanford, Havelock

Sanford is a significant employer in Marlborough with 185 mussel farms in the Sounds, a processing plant at Havelock, and a waste management centre next door.  

 

There’s a strong sense of innovation in the company, with staff encouraged and supported to find new ways of doing things to reduce their impact on the Marlborough Sounds environment. Examples include:

  • Developing biodegradable eco-rope to replace the plastic lashings on their farms

  • All mussel floats are recycled into plastic piping instead of going to landfill

  • Hydraulic oil for pumps and lifting gear has been replaced by a biodegradable vegetable-based oil

  • Installing BilgeKleen filters that remove 99.9% of hydrocarbons from bilge water before discharge

  • Fleet of vessels converting to new Hyundai engines that use less fuel, have lower emissions and are quieter 

     

Steve and Mary Satterthwaite from Muller Station, with sponsor Sharon Parkes (Federated Farmers) at left

Farming Award: Muller Station

Steve and Mary Satterthwaite own Muller Station in the Awatere Valley where they farm 38,000 hectares ranging from river valleys to steep mountain tops, and run about 14,000 merino sheep and 1300 cattle.

It has been a war against weeds including scabweed, hieracium and broom which are now controlled by top-dressing, spraying and strategic grazing. 

 

Steve led the way with rotational grazing in the high country, which rests the land, ensures stock are well fed year-round and keeps them off snow-prone country in the winter.

 

The focus is on developing “satellite units” of productive country, sowing nutritious cocksfoot, clover, lucerne and specialist grasses which has allowed

de-stocking of the more fragile high-altitude slopes.

Judges described the Satterthwaites as “dedicated, innovative and efficient farmers who are farming sustainably in a very difficult and very beautiful high country environment.”

Stephen Leitch of Southern Water Engineering with sponsor Robyn Cuddon (Cuddon Engineering)

Business Innovation: Southern Water Engineering

Southern Water Engineering designs, builds and installs irrigation, water storage and waste disposal systems that focus on conserving water, saving power and improving crop quality.

 

Managing director Stephen Leitch has developed SmartAudit to help companies manage their water use and save on the power needed to pump it. Some clients have reported power savings of up to $20,000 a year. 

Not content to just lay the pipes and leave, Stephen is coaching Marlborough companies about the need to collect data and manage their water use.

 

With the vineyard area in Marlborough set to increase by thousands of more hectares, Southern Water Engineering is looking at the bigger picture of the effect of increased irrigation on the region's water supply. Stephen says: "We can no longer afford to pretend all the water we want will be available, when we want it, without consequences."

 

The judges said Stephen is one of the few people in Marlborough asking the hard questions about conserving water and coming up with practical solutions. 

Bart Arnst and Mondo Kopua of Tohu with sponsor Marcus Pickens (Wine Marlborough)

Wine Industry Innovation: Tohu - Kono Beverages

Brown beetle can cause serious damage to vineyards by stripping the leaves in spring when new growth and flowers are forming. The pesticide Karate is used to defeat brown beetle but wine company Tohu wanted to find alternative methods that could be used on organic vineyards.

 
They employed Lincoln University PhD student Mauricio Gonzales-Chang to study the behavior of the brown beetle and, using that knowledge, develop organic methods of control to share with growers. These include:
 

  • Determining the soil and air temperature when beetles like to fly

  • Experimenting with under-vine mulch, including crushed mussel shells

  • Planting hedges to intercept the beetles

  • Using organic sprays to reduce the palatability of the vine leaves

 

The judges were impressed at the combination of scientific rigour and practical knowledge involved with the project, and the company’s ability to tap into external funders. 

Tim Crawford of Nelmac Garden Marlborough with sponsors Robyn Breen and Rachel Madsen (ASB). 

Community Innovation: Nelmac Garden Marlborough

Nelmac Garden Marlborough is a four-day event run by a volunteer committee and has been held every November for 23 years.

 

It features garden visits throughout the region, a charity auction, workshops, fete and community garden awards.

But the judges found that it is much more than a once-a-year event that shows off gardens. Money raised from these events goes back to the community through Garden Marlborough’s Arborbank, which gifts funding to support environmental education, planting and restoration projects.

The judges were impressed by Nelmac Garden Marlborough’s outreach into the community. It has come up with a unique way to show people the importance of biodiversity, gardening and caring for the environment, all through the efforts of 200 volunteers.