Consultant forging a career on the land

Nicola Kelland enjoys helping farmers achieve their financial and business goals.

Miss Kelland (24) is based in Alexandra, where she works as an agricultural business consultant for AgFirst Consultants Otago Ltd.

Brought up on Glenbrook Station, a high country property between Omarama and Twizel, she completed a bachelor of agricultural science degree, with honours, at Lincoln University.

Having grown up on a property that farmed merino sheep, it was natural that she would develop an interest in merinos and their wool. While at university, she did a project in association with New Zealand Merino on length and strength testing on merino wool.

After graduating, she spent a year working as a jillaroo at Haddon Rig, one of the leading merino studs in Australia.

The mixed farming property covers 24,281ha near the town of Warren, in the heart of central western New South Wales. The Haddon Rig merino stud was founded in 1882.

While there, she obtained her wool classing qualification at TAFE in Dubbo.

She met people from throughout the merino industry, made a lot of contacts and learned a "huge" amount.

Miss Kelland was then awarded the Otago Merino Association's annual Monaro Scholarship agricultural exchange to Australia last year.

The association is accepting applications for the 2012 PGG Wrightson Monaro Scholarship.

She spent three weeks travelling and visiting "a whole heap" of merino studs in the Monaro area, looking at their systems, their sheep and the way they operated.

It was interesting to see the sheep farmed in a very different environment, she said.

Miss Kelland also attended the Sydney Royal Easter Show, where she took part in a wool classing competition which attracted the top graduates from throughout New South Wales and Queensland, and she won the graduate wool classer of the year "to the dismay of the Australians".

Back in New Zealand, she did some freelance wool classing around the Mackenzie district and in Central Otago, before joining AgFirst.

The work was varied, encompassing everything from financial budgeting for individual clients through to "basic hands-on stuff" like soil testing and pasture growth assessment. It also involved discussion groups and Maf farm monitoring.

At Lincoln, Miss Kelland studied a range of subjects to set herself for a career in consultancy, and the university had "really prepared me well".

She recently bought into the AgFirst business and has made her wool-classing operation part of the business.

She loves the variation of her work and getting out and about and working with farmers.

At the moment, farmers were enjoying good weather and prices and it was pleasing to see them upbeat.

"They deserve a good year."

Miss Kelland intends to continue with farm consulting, growing the business and developing further contacts, while also incorporating wool-classing.

Being a young woman involved in both consulting and in wool-classing was quite a rarity, she said.

A keen multisport enthusiast, she is training to do the individual two-day women's section in the Coast to Coast next year.



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