On the ground in the Netherlands

Mid-Canterbury farmer Will Grayling, one of 40 farm leaders from around the world who attended at the Rabobank Young Farmers Master Class in the Netherlands.
Mid-Canterbury farmer Will Grayling, one of 40 farm leaders from around the world who attended at the Rabobank Young Farmers Master Class in the Netherlands.
Mid-Canterbury dairy farmer Will Grayling attended the first international young farmer master class in the Netherlands last week.

He was one of six young New Zealand farmers who were part of a group of 40 farm leaders from around the world at the Rabobank Young Farmers Master Class.

The gathering brought together forward-thinking young primary producers, from a range of countries, who have been identified to be among the next generation of ''agricultural leaders of tomorrow''.

Staged by global agricultural banking specialist Rabobank, the Young Farmers Master Class is an initiative which recognises the important shared role the coming generation of farmers will play in the future challenges of agriculture and feeding the world.

The master class encompassed an intensive programme, including presentations from food and agriculture researchers and leading global innovators, interactive professional and personal development sessions and visits to flagship agricultural companies.

Sessions included visits to the world-renowned Wagening University Research food and agri knowledge centre to learn about agricultural innovations, to a global dairy company's state-of-the-art dairy research centre to review developments in the dairy value chain and to a flagship sustainable, diversified dairy farm.

In addition, participants learnt from global social media expert Danny Mekic on the potential and significance of social and online media for the agricultural sector, while soil and crop research entrepreneur Henri Hekman shared his experience in leveraging ''big data''.

Other participants who attended included Grasslands chief executive Gareth van der Heyden, Blenheim sheep and beef producer, and vineyard operator Richard Laugesen, New Plymouth dairy farmer Jacques Le Prou, Masterton sheep and beef producer George Tatham and Rotorua dairy farmer Kirsten Watson.

Will Grayling (28), who was the 2011 National Bank Young Farmer of the Year, is an equity partner in share-milking operation Ashpouri.

He grew up on his family's dairy farming operation near Hamilton, before completing a masters of applied science degree in agriculture at Lincoln University.

He began his own venture in dairying in 2009. Ashpouri has now grown to a 3200-cow operation.