Regional winner knows real yakka

Tidying up. . . . Nightcaps Young Farmers Club member Alex Field rolls up strops during during the agrisport section of the Otago Southland Young Farmers of the Year competition at the Southern Field Days Waimumu site on Saturday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Alex Field knows “a crazy amount of dedication” will be involved in the next five months as he prepares for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final in July.

The Mossburn farm manager won the Otago Southland final of the competition last Saturday.

West Otago Club member Isaac Johnston (28) was runner-up and Clinton South Otago Club member George Blyth (22) was third.

The practical aspect of the competition was held at the Southern Field Days Waimumu site and the evening event at the Gore Town & Country Club.

The event was limited to 100 spectators.

It is the second time Mr Field (28), a member of the Nightcaps club, has qualified for the grand final.

He had a busy time ahead of him, he said.

“If I’m not working I’ll be preparing for the contest.

“Goodbye social life.”

As he remembered the effort he put into getting ready in 2019, he knew the “intensity I need to bring to it”.

“I put everything into it last time and it wasn’t enough.”

It was his last opportunity to take part in the national final as entrants were limited to two chances.

“It will be go for gold.”

While some people took time off work to prepare, many aspects of his job were relevant to the skills tested in the competition.

“I just have to identify what areas I need to improve on that my job doesn’t do naturally and work on [those].”

He was fortunate he had the support of fiancee Ashleigh O’Connell and friends who would ask him questions about the information he needed to know for the grand final.

Competition organising committee chairman Zac Thomas said while the committee had competition guidelines it also had “a lot of creative freedom as to how we tested those things that needed to be tested”.

The committee chose activities that would test the practical skills of competitors and their people management skills – “things such asĀ  interviewing a potential employee”.

Competitors had a farmlet area which they had to finish fencing and install items including a water trough.

In another agrisport event competitors needed to complete a number of tasks as quickly as possible.

Providing a good spectacle was also important, he said.

“Our focus was to create something people will enjoy watching but also the competitors will be tested.”

Seventy teams also took part in the Otago Southland AgriKidsNZ and FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year titles.

Northern Southland College pupils Kate Bennett and Grace Duthie (both 16) were third.

St Peter’s College pupils Jud Duffy, Will Bensemann, and Theo Dynes (all 12) won the AgriKidsNZ contest and will compete in July’s final.