The innovators and heroes of New Zealand’s arable industry will be recognised at New Zealand’s Arable Awards next week.
Finalists in each of nine categories have been selected by independent judges for the 2022 Arable Awards of New Zealand, to be presented at a special event at Te Pae, Christchurch, on August 4.
“With COVID, supply chain and workforce disruption, inflation and all the other challenges going on, one might have thought nominating arable industry heroes for awards could slip as a priority,” Federated Farmers Arable Group Chairperson and national board Member Colin Hurst said.
But not so, as there were 80 nominations.
“Clearly there are many others who, like Federated Farmers and our Arable Awards partners FAR, United Wheat growers and NZGSTA, recognise the value of celebrating and honouring the leaders and rising stars among our arable producers.”
Feds is delighted that judges have named Southland president Chris Dillon, Feds Arable executive member David Birket, and immediate past national vice-president Karen Williams and husband Mick as the three finalists for Arable Farmer of the Year.
Chris is involved in two catchment groups and is always reviewing farming practices to look at new technologies, without discounting the tried and true. He pushes for flexibility in his growing operation that allows transition to new markets, giving diversity.
The nomination for David said he is a recognised leader in environmental/sustainable farming, with a focus on improving soil quality. He is open to trialing any approach to reduce synthetic inputs such as using biological products, cover crops, retaining straw, etc, and is always willing to share his knowledge and results…good or bad.
The nomination for Karen and Mick Williams said they had both undertaken industry leadership roles and “have been strongly committed to ensuring their profitable arable farming business operates with a diminishing environmental impact”.
The Food Champion finalists include the Southland-based Auld Farm Distillery, where Rob and Toni Auld have achieved world firsts such as a single malt whisky made from purple wheat, black oats, even black barley along with a range of gins made from a base alcohol of oat, wheat and barley.
Another Food Champion finalist, Angela Clifford, is described by her nominators as a passionate advocate for the arable industry. She formed EatNZ, and through this organisation promotes NZ grown/produced food. EatNZ’s grain food hui has been a platform for NZ growers to talk about the grain-based food products they produce and showcase them in front of an audience of chefs and food critics.
The third finalists in this category, Blair and Jody Drysdale of Hopefield Hemp, have shown a lot of grit to even get a licence to grow hemp. They now press their own seed and make and market hemp oil, health supplement and nutraceutical products.
“We are excited to bring the Arable Awards of New Zealand to life, an event put together by industry, for industry,” Colin Hurst said.
The full list of finalists for the 2022 Arable Awards is (with Award sponsor in brackets):
Agronomist of the Year (The New Zealand Grain & Seed Trade Association) – Anna Gillum, David Weith, Roger Lasham, Rowland Tsimba.
Grower of the Year – Grain (Bayer) – David & Anna Irving, Geoff Maw, Will MacKenzie.
Grower of the Year – Small Seed (PGG Wrightson Seeds) – Hamish Marr, John McCaw, Ronald Hydes.
Grower of the Year – Maize (Pioneer) – Alaistair Barnett, Chris Pellow.
Emerging Talent Award (Balance Agri Nutrients) – Andrew Darling, Ethan Flack, Lauren Beattie.
Environment & Sustainability Award – (MPI) Karen & Mick Williams, Simon Osborne, Taggart Farms Ltd.
Arable Farmer of the Year (Federated Farmers) – David Birkett, Karen & Mick Williams, Chris Dillon.
Innovation Award (FAR) – Auld Distillery, E-Check Far Environment Team, Hopefield Hemp.
Arable Food Champion – (Countdown Supermarkets) Angela Clifford, Blair and Jody Drysdale, Rob & Toni Auld.