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Arable awards a growing success

Arable awards a growing success
Andy and Jo Innes, winners of the Grower of the Year small seeds award, credit their team for their success. PHOTO CLAIRE INKSON

Mid Canterbury was well represented at the Arable Awards in Christchurch, with finalists from the region in the running for the Growers Awards and Arable Farmer of the Year.

The awards were held at Wigram Airforce Museum last Thursday night, with a crowd of over 600 attendees, almost double that of the previous year.

Sam and Hannah Grant from Ashburton picked up the Grower of the Year award for grain, while Andy and Jo Innes from Innes Fields Ltd in Rakaia won the Grower of the Year for small seeds.

Andy Innes said the Arable Awards were an important part of telling the arable story.

“We need to promote ourselves, and the industry needs to promote itself.

“We need to tell our story in a positive way and be proud of what we do.”

Innes said it was an honour to be nominated and credited the support of the Innes Field staff and agronomists for the award win.

“It’s a team effort.

“We are only as good as the team around us, and we are fortunate to have a great one.”

The coveted Arable Farmer of the Year Award went to Hugh Richie from Hawkes Bay, whose farm had suffered from flooding during Cyclone Gabrielle.

Judges noted that Richie had built a diverse farm system to cope with the change and adversity.

“He was always looking to do better, always looking to see what he can learn from,” the judging panel said.

Barenbrug New Zealand Plant Breeding Team won the Plant Breeder/Researcher Award presented by the New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association (PBRA).

The breeding team was recognised for their contribution to crop development and the impact on seed quality and yield.

PBRA general manager Thomas Chin said that plant breeding is the starting point for the arable and seed industry, with breeders underpinning the arable sector, which generates $800 million in annual sales including $245 million from exports.

“The industry relies on the skills of the many talented individuals as they strive to meet the needs of farmers and growers.

“Their contributions mean a more productive and profitable primary industry.”

Federated Farmers arable chairperson David Birkett, who was named Arable Farmer of the Year in the 2022 awards, said the awards celebrate the “cream of the crop of New Zealand’s arable sector”.

“The event is about coming together to network, tell success stories and spotlight the business and investment opportunities the sector generates.”

2023 Arable Award Winners

Innovation Award – Blair and Jody Drysdale, Hopefield Hemp

Arable Food Champion – Rob and Toni Auld, Auld Farm Distillery

Arable Farmer of the Year – Hugh Richie

Maize Grower of the Year – David and Adrienne Wordsworth

Small Seeds Grower of the Year – Andy and Jo Innes

Grain Grower of the Year – Sam and Hannah grant

Researcher of the Year – Dr Richard Chynoweth from the Foundation for Arable Research

Environmental and Sustainability Award - Andrew and Amy Darling

Emerging Talent Award – James Abbiss of Silverton pastoral

Agronomist of the Year – Paul Johnston, Yara Fertilizers Ltd

Plant Breeder/Researcher of the Year – The Barenbrug New Zealand Plant Breeding Team

Arable Employer of the Year – PGG Wrightson Seeds

By Claire Inkson