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Gareth McKerchar: Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

Pleasant Point young farmer Gareth McKerchar is living the best of both worlds. 

Spending his week split between the office and on-farm, Gareth works as an Agri Manager for Ravensdown, recommending fertiliser to farmers across the Canterbury high country and the Waitaki Valley.  

Travelling from Timaru to Fairlie to as far as Glenavy and Ōmārama, the 25-year-old has seen many different farms that use a variety of systems. Working with farmers on a day-to-day basis, he says, is what he’s always wanted to do. 

“I’m out on-farm running soil tests, then analysing lab results to come up with a nutrient plan that meets the farmer’s goals.”  

“Working this job, I’ve realised there are so many ways to do things, and no two of my farmers run the same system. Each relies on their team on farm and beyond to support them, and it’s awesome to be part of that help.” 

In preparation for the Grand Final, Gareth hopes to draw on his different experiences to bring something new. 

“One day I can be on an irrigated dairy farm at the coast, and then be on a big cropping farm or high country station the next day. Hopefully, my theory and practice, and the conversations I’ve had with farmers, will help lead me to success.” 

He’s also hoping that his Bachelor of Agriculture, with a focus on plants and soils, will give him a leg up for the quizzes and modules. Although he’s helped run the theory side of things before with Ravensdown as a sponsor, this season, he has no idea what he’s in for.  

“The challenge I enjoyed the most in the Regional Final was the Farmlet, so I’m looking forward to giving that another crack in July. It was good fun, because it meant I could focus on the things I was good at and prioritise them, and it made me realise what I might need to improve on before the Grand Final.” 

“I know there’ll be things that will leave me absolutely stumped, but fingers crossed, I can prepare enough.” 

Growing up on the family farm in Fairlie, Gareth knew he always wanted to be a part of the agricultural industry.  

“Almost every day I was doing something on the farm, filling my weekends giving an extra pair of hands to my parents.” 

With an Australian harvest under his belt too, his plan now is to work hard to get further ahead – whether that’s at home, abroad, or with Young Farmers. 

“I’m entering the Grand Final with a mindset to win, but at the same time learn something new,” he says.  

“It’s a big opportunity to put yourself forward and create a bit of a personal brand for yourself.” 

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Written by
NZ Young Farmers

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