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New award encourages farmers to share ideas for sustainable freshwater management

New award encourages farmers to share ideas for sustainable freshwater management

Encouraging farmers to share ideas for achieving sustainable freshwater management has motivated the launch of a new award this month - with a trip to the USA up for grabs.

The Zimmatic™ Trailblazer - Sustainable Irrigation Awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainable irrigation. With support from Awards partners, the competition is being run by agricultural irrigation systems leader, Zimmatic. It will recognise farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation, innovative water management and environmental stewardship.

The supreme award winner will receive a trip for two to the USA and be invited to join the Zimmatic team on a tour showcasing American irrigation advancements.

Zimmatic Strategic Adviser Stu Bradbury says uncertainty around government policy and negative sentiment in national media has many New Zealand farmers questioning their farming future and social license to operate.

“We want the Awards to get people talking about smart practices and innovative technology options farmers can use to improve their irrigation and freshwater management.

“It’s also about promoting leadership across the primary sector. We’re looking for farmers who are in it ‘boots and all’ when it comes to water management. And then giving them a platform from which to share their stories with their peers and a wider audience.”

The judges are looking for innovation in water management, steps taken to ensure sustainable water use on farm, and an obvious passion for protecting one of our most precious natural resources.

Each entrant will be judged on the following categories: sustainable irrigation management; irrigation-driven improvements, which may include cost reductions, environmental outcomes, yield improvements and/or improved efficiencies; waterway protection; stewardship/community.

Awards backed by industry leaders

The Awards have been made possible thanks to the support of our New Zealand industry partners IrrigationNZ, Farmers Weekly, Vantage NZ and Irricon.

IrrigationNZ CEO Elizabeth Soal says, “It is a challenging time for farmers with increasing pressure on them to improve their environmental practices. But they are open-minded about these challenges and have already taken steps to ensure they are adhering to best farming practice. 

“At the end of the day, we all want healthy animals, thriving land and good water quality. Through these Awards we can recognise the time, money and effort farmers are investing in achieving these goals.”

Ms Soal is encouraging farmers to nominate themselves or their peers for the Award.

“We want excellence in agriculture and horticulture to be celebrated in New Zealand and to showcase the expert technologies and systems that are in place for everyone’s benefit,” she says. 

“Irrigation isn’t just about turning on the tap. If farmers want to educate New Zealanders about the expertise involved in day-to-day farming practices, they should step forward and share their stories. Everyone has different land, experiences, and expertise and these awards are a great chance to demonstrate that.” 

Changing perception

Stu Bradbury expresses the same sentiment. He says the Awards are an opportunity to demonstrate the difference responsible irrigation and water management can make to farm productivity, the environment and the prosperity of our rural communities.

Looking at the bigger picture, Mr Bradbury says there is an opportunity for innovative farming pioneers to influence future generations.

“These farmers have a role to play in strengthening the New Zealand success story as global leaders in sustainable and profitable farming.

“Our team at Zimmatic is partnering with farmers and supporting them during uncertain times. We are providing them with expert technical advice and innovative solutions to help them future-proof their business.

“These Awards are an opportunity for our industry partners, our dealer network and the farming community to join us in recognising those who are making a difference.”

The Zimmatic Trailblazer – Sustainable Irrigation Awards is open to all farmers and farming operations within New Zealand and Australia with an irrigation system used on their property or properties. 

For more information about the Awards or to make a nomination, visit