Calvin Ball has been crowned Northland FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
Beef farmer Tim Dangen came in runner up, and business owner Lisa Kendall came in third.
Now heading to the Grand Final in Christchurch in July to battle it out for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year national title, Ball was stoked.
“I’m pretty chuffed to take home the win. Slightly mixed emotions as I know I’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of the grand finals, have to change up the diary a bit, but it’s such an achievement.”
The eight regional finalists competed in eight modules and battled it out head-to-head in two time and point races at Pukekohe Showgrounds on Saturday, April 17th.
Ball, who is the Northern North Island Regional Sales Manager for an agri-nutrient cooperative, previously competed in the 2016 Grand Final. He said he’s learned a lot about the finer points of the competition over the years, all of which he’ll be keeping in mind come Grand Final day in July.
“I’m 31 now, a bit of an old wise owl, I guess. When I first started out, I’d blast through the modules as quick as I could. I’ve learned to slow down a bit now and try to really understand what the module is trying to achieve”.
While the weather didn’t play ball, the wind and rain didn’t deter the competitor’s enthusiasm. The competition was stiff from the get-go and a real race to the finish.
“Despite the weather, it was a really well put together regional final. It was challenging, and we were certainly pushed to the limit. All credit to everyone who helped run the event. It was a really stellar effort.”
A liquorice all-sorts of modules saw competitors grading broccoli, tackling high tech machinery, cooking eggs and everything in-between. While Ball says his lack of appetite for vegetables may have put him at a disadvantage for the broccoli grading, he made up the points with his quick talking in the auctioneering module.
The two head to heads involved building a fence, planting a riparian strip, setting up irrigation and chainsawing a log along with cooking an omelette, painting a sign and first aid. A written exam, as well as the famous FMG Young Farmer of the Year (FMG YFOTY) buzzer quiz also tested the regional finalist’s knowledge.
“The head to heads is where the real challenge was today. We had a lot to do, and I don’t think anyone finished them, which is always a sign of a tough head to head.”
With the contest based around four strainers – technology and innovation, environment, people, food – finalists who earned the top points in each strainer also won awards.
“This competition and NZ Young Farmers is where innovation and technology is showcased. The competition drives a culture of high performance and leadership. This is where leaders are born and nourished. To be part of this competition and be representing my regional at the Grand Finals is such a privilege,” Ball said.
Runner-up Tim Dangen ecchoed Balls sentiments on the regional finals being a ‘well run and enjoyable event’ despite the adverse weather.
“I’m stoked with my placing, it was such stiff competition, and it really could have gone any way. Calvin is a great competitor and more than deserves the win. He’ll do great at the Grand Finals.”
Dangen, who runs the family farm in partnership with his parents, is a third-time regional competitor. Supported by a team of friends and family, he said he’s struggled to pick out a favourite part of the competition today.
“The broccoli grading threw me a bit, I’ve never done that before but the judge taught me quite a bit. That’s part of the fun of the competition; you always get something new thrown at you.”
Dangen is working towards full ownership and is looking forward to continuing the 40 years of family history embedded in the Kauri Valley Farm. With a wealth of practical experience to his advantage, he said that he has some work to do on the technical side of the house for future competitions.
“I’ve probably only got a few goes left at the competition, but I’m keen to give it another crack and get to the Grand Finals.”
“The advice I’d give to everyone thinking about competing is just to get involved. It’s a great experience and placings don’t matter. You learn so much, and I really use this competition as a way to keep educating myself. It’s easy to get a bit stagnant when your working on the farm, so this helps to keep me fresh.” he said.
Business owner Lisa Kendall said this year’s competition was a bit different for her, and she’s ‘pretty happy’ with her performance and third placing.
“It’s been tough in the lead up to the competition; being a new mum, I’ve been juggling lack of sleep, work and a baby, but that’s the reality of farming these days. It’s really important that farming mums are represented in these types of competitions,” she said.
The event was convened by Annaliese Goettler.
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