‘Hidden stumps’ test young Southland farmers

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Learning experience... Megan Whyte examines a bull catalogue under the eye of assessor Kathy McDonald during the Southland Young Farmers district contest near Mataura on Saturday. PHOTO: FIONA ELLIS

Those in the field had to watch out for stumps at the Southland District Young Farmer contest on Saturday.

Waitane Young Farmers organising committee member Bridget Henderson said the event, held at Zac Thomas’s farm near Mataura, was about dealing with situations that could come up in real life.

“They have no idea what’s in store for them. They’ve got to be prepared for anything,” Miss Henderson said.

“They’re meant to do everything by the book, but there are stumps’.”

An example of a hidden stump was the module for sheep drenching those who read the fine print would discover the solution was out of date.

“They shouldn’t be using it.”

Another stump was the accounting module, which competitors might overthink because they were given a lot of information unnecessary for answering the question.

Balfour’s Megan Whyte was taking part in the event for the first time. She placed in the top eight competitors.

“They’ve got a few things to trip you up,” Miss Whyte said.

However, she was enjoying the learning experience.

There were 15 modules in total, testing skills such as seed identification, first aid and using a forage harvester.

The 15 competitors, aged from 16 to 30, switched to a different station every 16 minutes.

Miss Henderson said the competition had support from businesses they had approached, as well as from former members of Waitane Young Farmers.

The five-member organising committee was grateful for the help.

“It’s going really, really well.”

First-hand experience in the competition in previous years gave her an appreciation of what it had to offer.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it. That’s why I encouraged people to enter this one.”

Assessors were able to teach young farmers a lot and answer their questions, she said.

“You get out what you put in.”

The four top-scoring young farmers would compete at the Otago-Southland regional competition on March 6.

Saturday’s placing was tight and would make for a gripping regional competition, she said.