Forage specialist, Blake Gunn, has won the Farmax Emerging Rural Professional of the Year award for 2022.
Blake is a forage systems specialist for Agricom, which involves providing the regional territory managers support, along with the latest learning and research, and increasing connectivity between rural professionals, from fertiliser specialists to regional councils, and catchment groups to industry organisations.
As a liaison between Agricom’s plant breeders and the sales team, he spends “a lot of time behind the lawnmower and collecting data”, but he knows that is the hard groundwork that needs to be done to prove how their products work.
Blake’s win was announced during the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management’s National Conference Awards Dinner in Hamilton on August 29.
The judges were highly impressed with the calibre of all the candidates for the Farmax Emerging Rural Professional of the Year award, and found it difficult to separate the outstanding candidates.
In making their final decision, the judges noted Blake’s passion for the industry, and his awareness of the need for industry collaboration and a more synergistic approach to supporting farm businesses.
“I’m very grateful for the team at Farmax for supporting this award, and not just me, but all of the other applicants. It gives you a bit of confidence in what you are doing is actually a key part of the industry going forward. We all have our part to play,” said Blake.
“It’s great to see a number of keen educated young professionals coming through the industry and willing to put themselves out there and promote themselves through this award.”
The Farmax Emerging Rural Professional of the Year prize includes funds to put towards a research project, professional development courses or overseas study tours. Blake plans to utilise Agricom’s global network to view some international forage systems first hand or attend the international grasslands congress where topical scientific papers are published.
“Agricom is part of a global company DLF seeds; this allows us to have contact points across numerous countries which vary a lot in climate and pastoral challenges,” said Blake.
“It would be great to spend some time with the international team. A lot of the germplasm used within ryegrass cultivars in New Zealand have heritage leading back to areas of northwest Spain, so perhaps there’s some learnings to be had over there.”