Bell keen to try again, one day

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 08:52 29/05/2013

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Aorangi Young Farmer Contest grand finalist Matthew Bell says he will compete again in the competition - but it may not be in 2014.

Bell finished a credible third in a tight contest, only 13 points behind the winner Tim van de Molen from Waikato/Bay of Plenty.

He is now considering taking a year off rather than trying to make it to the finals for a second consecutive year.

"I have no doubt I'll be back. All this has done is light a bigger fire under me to try to win the contest."

He said he was very proud to have finished third, exceeding his own expectations.

"It was an amazing experience, it was a lot of fun and it was very intense and a big step from the regional finals." he said.

The contestants also had to battle the elements, with the practical and agrisports challenges taking place in heavy rain.

"It was very challenging and it meant a lot more to me winning the practical day.

"It meant even more because it was so trying."

Bell said he felt reasonably confident heading into the quiz. The points among the contestants were at that stage tight.

However, van de Molen got off to a flying start in the first two untelevised rounds of the quiz.

"He had a 12 point lead on me."

Bell knew the answers, but van de Molen was faster on the buzzer.

Van de Molen, 30, was runner-up in the 2011 year contest.

He is the son of two Matamata primary school teachers. He says he grew up "around farms" rather than on them.

The ANZ agribusiness manager and drystock farmer has a degree in social sciences, after majoring in psychology.

He got hooked on the land when relief milking during school and university holidays.

Such was the lure, he went straight to work on a Morrinsville dairy farm on graduating.

The Matamata College old boy has been with the ANZ for three-and-a-half years.

Van de Molen sees his future in farming with a large side serving of governance and strategy-setting roles.

Part of his nearly $70,000 prize package is his entry into the Kelloggs Rural Programme from Massey University, an offering he says will help open the door to that governance skills development.

Van de Molen, who was last year named Australasian Rural Ambassador by the New Zealand and Australian Royal Agricultural Societies

He says much of the value of the ANZ competition is in the learning opportunities it provides.

■ Fairfax NZ

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- The Timaru Herald

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