Technical heat put on young farmers in national grand finals
A frontrunner has yet to emerge from the first day of FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest, but southern finalists did not let themselves down.
The nation's top farming material got a taste of the red-hot pressure they can expect from the rest of the three-day national competition in and around Timaru during the first technical challenge on Thursday.
Local finalist Athol New from Mid Canterbury was expected to do well in the section alongside Tasman's James Hoban and they looked the most comfortable with tasks put in front of them.
Breathing down their necks were Waikato-Bay of Plenty finalist Calvin Ball and East Coast's Tony Dowman.
On Friday, however, the practical day challenges will see a shift in skill-sets and Taranaki/Manawatu's Pete Fitz-Herbert, Otago Southland's Logan Wallace and Northern's Jake Thomson are likely to shine.
The seven grand finalists had to complete a series of challenges that young farmers need to possess in the technical section, held at at Raincliff Station in South Canterbury.
Technical challenge convenor Julian Gaffaney said the challenge suited competitors who worked logically and methodically.
"There were lots of difficult tasks that juggled their heads."
Among the tasks were developing a dairy heifer grazing system with software, completing the purchase of an irrigation share on a block they would have to develop and getting their heads around a farm environment plan.
The contestants completed their first physical challenge this afternoon in front of a crowd at the Timaru piazza overlooking Caroline Bay.
In the evening they had to complete the mental challenge of trying to provide the right answers in quiz buzzer rounds, followed by a speech.
NZ Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said he was impressed by the level of knowledge and skill contestants displayed.
The high achievers showed why the primary industry was leading the way in innovation, technology and skills and they would go on to become tomorrow's leaders, he said.
The contest continues tomorrow alongside AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg national finals.