Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Reigning FMG Young Farmer of the Year shares insights ahead of competition


Remain calm under pressure and have confidence in your skills. That’s the advice to contestants in this year’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition from 2016 winner Athol New.

Athol, who previously represented Aorangi, is ready to pass on the mantle at this year’s Grand Final, starting in Feilding tomorrow (July 6).

The FMG Young Farmer competition provided me with a great opportunity to learn new skills and test myself against my peers. If the competitors can remain calm under the pressure and have faith in their skills, it will be a tight contest.

Winning the competition has opened many doors for Athol, something he hopes future winners can capitalise on.

“Having the backing of the Young Farmers brand has really helped me in my career. Being a part of the competition opens your mind and broadens your horizons, providing opportunities that other people don’t necessarily get. Through the competition, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to some really intelligent people in the industry and gain their insights.

“You also learn a lot about the business side of farming, which is an area where I think a lot of young farmers struggle. It was really good for me to learn more about this.”

Athol is currently Operations Manager at Rakaia Island Dairy. He is a strong advocate for embracing innovation and believes that utilising data is the future of farming in New Zealand.

“There’s a lot of data available now that we just don’t know how best to use. The technology around precision agriculture that is coming into the market at the moment is incredible and will make such a difference to how we manage inputs in farming systems.

Precision agriculture and data go hand-in-hand so I hope that the industry embraces the technology and that it becomes common place.

Ravensdown is a sponsor the FMG Young Farmer competition. Greg Campbell, Chief Executive of Ravensdown, says supporting this is a natural fit for the business.

“The competition challenges and brings out the best in the contestants who continue to impress me. Having a platform to benchmark themselves against the best of their peers is a key opportunity – assisting with their career development which is incredibly beneficial for our industry and country.

“We are always looking to the future and how we can support the next generation. This competition puts the youth of our sector on the map, gives them a voice and gets them engaging with industry leaders and experts and we’re thrilled to play our part.”

Athol will still be a part of the action at the Young Farmer competition this year. He is set to take on his trans-Tasman opponent in a series of gruelling challenges. But while the competition may be tough, he encourages anyone thinking of entering in future years to get involved.

“Go for it. You’ll only regret if you don’t give it a go.”