“We want to leave the land in a better place for our kids, and our kids’ kids.” Aaron Waite, Waimacher Farms, Taranaki.
At BDO, we know farmers are working hard to operate as sustainably as possible, and we understand that constantly changing regulations are difficult to manage - often it's hard to know where to start.
Aaron Waite, an owner of Waimacher Farms in Taranaki, has always been passionate about sustainability.
“I can’t remember a day growing up in Taranaki when I didn’t want to be a dairy farmer,” says Aaron. “My kids feel the same, and that means I want to make sure I leave a profitable, sustainable business behind that has no negative environmental impacts - so that my children, their children, and the generations after that, can continue to do what we’ve always done and live off the land.”
With seven waterways running through the farm, effluent management, nutrient leaching and water quality are all significant factors when it comes to Waimacher Farm’s environmental impact.
To try and offset these, Aaron invested in a herd shelter. This enables him to remove his stock from pasture during the autumn and winter seasons, when plants aren’t as absorbent meaning nitrates are most at risk of leaching into waterways. The herd shelter has a woodchip base, which is not only comfortable for the cows but retains nutrients from effluent, which Aaron then spreads on the pasture later in the year.
This herd shelter and a new effluent pond have been key tools for the farm’s pivot towards more sustainable nutrient management practices, as have the scaling up of a programme of riparian planting along the farm’s waterways to provide a buffer against nutrient run off.
The first steps on the journey towards environmental sustainability
These changes have had a significant positive impact on the sustainability of the farm, but they have also required changes to be made to Waimacher’s business structure and accounts to take into account this sustainability repivot. As Aaron says: “These are only the first steps on a long journey towards environmental sustainability, but even these changes have required a significant rethink of the farm’s financial management and business structure.”
That’s where BDO comes in. As part of our sustainability service offering, we provide financial transformation and accounting services to businesses that are pivoting towards a more sustainable model.
“Its vital that any organisation that’s working towards a more sustainable business, whether involved in agriculture or any other industry, takes a comprehensive look at its current position and broader structure to ensure they fully understand their current reality and that everything is aligned - this includes identifying any opportunities and constraints when it comes to the ever-evolving ESG regulations,” says Chris Harvey, Partner, BDO Taranaki. “Not only will this help the business get clarity around the best way forward but it will also identity any significant risks that need to be addressed.”
Providing a sounding board for those big decisions
Becoming more sustainable can require some big decisions. BDO has also provided Aaron with a sounding board throughout the process, providing a much-needed second pair of eyes when it comes to making some of those key changes. As Aaron says: “The key to managing any major change is drawing on the support of a strong team. On farm that’s my family and other farmers, off farm that’s professionals such as BDO - our financial advisers, the bank and others. The success of my strong relationships has been ensuring BDO are across my thinking at every stage, enabling them to share their expert input, a vital platform for fresh thinking and a brighter more sustainable future for Waimacher Farms.”
Adopting sustainable farm practices and meeting changing regulations requires bold change. For this, you need the right team around you; your family, friends, fellow farmers and trusted advisers - with fresh ideas for your business model, finances and accounting.
Like most, Aaron’s team are on a journey. But each win is a step towards that better place. What’s your next step?
If you’re thinking about moving towards more sustainable farming practices, we can help. Talk to your local BDO agri adviser today to find out more.