Conference likely to attract up to 300

Nelson Hancox
Nelson Hancox
The opportunities of changing land use is the theme for this year's New Zealand Grassland Association conference in Gore next month.

There had been "massive" changes in land use since the area last hosted the conference in 1992 and, along with that change, there were huge opportunities.

The conference will promote those opportunities, organising committee chairman Nelson Hancox said.

Between 250 and 300 people were expected to attend from November 6 to 8.

The organising committee has spent about 16 months working on the event and it was "coming together really well", Mr Hancox, a Tapanui sheep and beef farmer, said.

As well as promoting the region and the ways farmers were adapting to the changing land uses, 46 papers will be presented by a broad range of speakers.

The event was also an economic boost to the area, with the influx of conference participants and their partners.

The conference had attracted "amazing sponsorship", Mr Hancox said.

There will be a field trip to Nithdale Station, 17km southeast of Gore, which is farmed by Andrew and Heather Tripp and includes both sheep and beef operations and a dairy unit, as well as a farmstay.

A field trip has also been organised to visit the Stewart family's sheep, beef and deer farm in the Leithen Valley, north of Waikaka, which includes a trophy hunting block, Various awards will be presented at the conference dinner, including two New Zealand Grassland Trust local awards for excellence in grassland farming in both sheep and beef, and dairy.

Criteria included a profitable grassland-based business run for at least five years on the property, an innovative approach, sustainable management and communication skills, which included passing on good grassland farming skills to others in the region and community involvement.

The trust will also present the NZGT regional award, for a person in the local area, recognising exceptional effort above and beyond the normal career contribution that supports the regional pastoral agricultural industry, be it technology development or an aspect of farming itself.

The Ray Brougham Trophy will be awarded for an outstanding national contribution to the New Zealand grassland industry.

The New Zealand Grassland Association, which has more than 900 members, is the largest membership-based body in both New Zealand and the world that specialises in transferring pastoral technology from the laboratory to the farm.

Registrations for the conference can be made at www.grassland.org.nz and early bird registrations have been extended until Friday.