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