Tuesday, 09 October 2012 09:22

Central South Island dominates

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All finalists this year in the Lincoln University Foundation's annual competition are from the central South Island.

The foundation's South Island Farmer of the year completion for 2012 has attracted entries ranging from a large multi-farm dairying company to specialists in agricultural feed crops and a high country merino station.

The finalists all comprise farms from the central South Island. They are:

• Andy and Kate Chapman from Methven who have transformed a traditional sheep and beef property into a modern cereal cropping and dairy support operation.

• Gavin Loxton with Sue, Rob and Anne Allan of Sawdon Station, Lake Tekapo, a dryland Merino breeding ewe property that has explored innovations in feed crop development.

• Synlait Farms Ltd, Rakaia, a large multi-farm company with some 100 shareholders with a focus on efficient and sustainable pastoral systems.

• Deane and Joanne Taylor from Ashburton who run a specialist mixed arable property (supplemented by dairy grazing, store lambs and breeding ewes) where there has been strong development and innovation in the use of irrigation technology to increase farm production.

Ben Todhunter, chair of the Lincoln University Foundation, says the finalists all met the competition's criteria for excellence in farming practice, innovation and sustainability.

"One of our criteria is that there is the potential for knowledge transfer so that other farmers can benefit from the innovation and knowledge shown, and in that regard these are all excellent finalists."

Final judging and an announcement of the winner will be at Lincoln University on November 8. All finalists will present their operation to a public audience and the judges. The finals will be followed in the evening by an awards dinner for an invited audience. The winner receives a $15,000 travel/education grant.

The aim of the Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition is to reward farmers whose work showcases the best of what can be achieved in farming. It is more than being a 'good farmer', it means operating in a way that shows leadership, innovation, efficiency and sustainability.

The eventual winner will have demonstrated they are in the top echelon of agricultural producers and that they have developed, or are developing, leading-edge approaches inside or beyond the farm gate that enhance farming activity.

The foundation will also assist the winner to host an agricultural field day on their property early in 2013.

"Through raising the profile of such farmers we hope others will be able to adapt these ideas so they can grow their own business and ensure New Zealand farmers remain world leaders," says Todhunter.

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