Farming a passion for Massey's top student

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 07:11 06/01/2014
Cameron Black
Fairfax NZ

TOP OF THE CLASS: Cameron Black from Riverton has won the top agriculture student award at Massey University.

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A Southland student who won the top agriculture student award at Massey University plans to continue his studies to research water quality for sheep and beef farmers.

Cameron Black, 21, who completed a bachelor of agricultural science at Manawatu, was awarded the accolade for his high academic achievement and was also judged by staff and his peers to have made the largest contribution to the wellbeing and reputation of their fellow students in agriculture.

Mr Black will now complete an honours degree in agricultural science, which will focus on a soil agronomy research project for sheep and beef farmers in hill country.

He will investigate nutrient loss and water quality and look at denitration - the removal of nitric acid to reduce leaching into waterways.

"Not much research has been done in this area of farming and it is topical," he said.

He grew up on a 566-hectare sheep-and-beef farm near Riverton, which had inspired him, he said.

"I am from a strong farming family and I am passionate about agriculture. I want to do what I can to protect its future and help make a difference," he said.

Mr Black would like a career in agriculture consultation, and plans eventually to farm.

"As water limitations are implemented by various councils, it is important farmers have information to help ... I hope my research will be part of that and be applicable throughout the country."

His father Graeme said he was proud of his son.

There were 6000 ewes on the farm so he always had plenty to do, he said.

His mother Raewyn said her son's research would perhaps help on their Mandeville hill-country farm, near Gore.

Mr Black's involvement with organising successful agriculture events contributed to his top award win.

He organised agriculture professional development seminars, got students trained for heavy traffic licences and organised practical skills days, where students learned about quad-bike safety, fencing, chainsaw use and tractors.

"I also helped organise sheep shearing demonstration on campus during open day, which was cool," he said.

Mr Black has been involved with the Young Farmers during his three years at the University - holding the position of sheriff, vice president and most recently professional development officer - a role he will continue during his research.

He will also compete in Young Farmer competition Manawatu regional finals in March.

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- The Southland Times

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