Canterbury dairy workers, sharemilkers and farmers have led the way in contributing to record numbers for the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.
The 572 entry total is the best for the awards split in three categories with Canterbury and North Otago leading the 11 regional competitions with 73 entries.
This was boosted by 40 Canterbury/North Otago entries in the region's dairy trainee competition with the rest to contest the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competitions.
The trainee competition, attracting close to 300 entries, is the main contributor to growth in the awards.
National convener Chris Keeping said the response from dairy trainees had been "phenomenal".
"It is such a positive indicator for the dairy industry to have so many young people putting themselves forward to have their skills tested and to raise their profile and position in the industry," Keeping said.
The 292 entries received in the trainee contest was up from 251 last year and just more than 100 in 2008 when the contest began.
Keeping said the interest indicated the awards' experience helped to motivate trainees, lift their confidence and provide focus for them to progress in the industry.
The sharemilker and equity farmer competition attracted 115 entries and a 165-strong field will contest the farm manager title.
Judging will start in the South Island competitions next week and the first regional winners will be announced in early March.
CENTRAL SOUTH ISLAND FARMER
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