Testing times begin for region's young farmers

Josh Johanson, of Ida Valley, tries out his first-aid knowledge on volunteer Chloe Rosser, of...
Josh Johanson, of Ida Valley, tries out his first-aid knowledge on volunteer Chloe Rosser, of Waikouaiti.
Grace McAtamney, of Middlemarch, and Troy Steer, of Cromwell, scratch their heads through the...
Grace McAtamney, of Middlemarch, and Troy Steer, of Cromwell, scratch their heads through the From the Farm module.
Ray Mohammed (left) and Rebecca Johnston, both of Dunedin, put the hard questions to Adam Kelly,...
Ray Mohan (left) and Rebecca Johnston, both of Dunedin, put the hard questions to Adam Kelly, of St Bathans.
Strath Taieri Young Farmers Club secretary Morgan Ramsay was kept busy making sure the day ran...
Strath Taieri Young Farmers Club secretary Morgan Ramsay was kept busy making sure the day ran smoothly.
Lachlan Macaulay (11) and Middlemarch rural fire brigade volunteers Cameron Macaulay and Philip...
Lachlan Macaulay (11) and Middlemarch rural fire brigade volunteers Cameron Macaulay and Philip Paul, of Middlemarch, enjoy a break between competitors.
The four Otago district finalists (from left) are Adam Callaghan (Upper Manuherikia), Angel-lee Wood (Strath Taieri) Adam Dale (Strath Taieri) and Josh Johanson (Upper Manuherikia). Photo: Supplied/Bridget Huddleston
The four Otago district finalists (from left) are Adam Callaghan (Upper Manuherikia), Angel-lee Wood (Strath Taieri) Adam Dale (Strath Taieri) and Josh Johanson (Upper Manuherikia). Photo: Supplied/Bridget Huddleston

It was a case of brawn and brain shall win the game at the Otago district final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year in Middlemarch on Saturday.

A smaller-than-expected field of competitors turned out to this year's event, hosted by the Strath Taieri Young Farmers Club in Middlemarch, but club secretary Morgan Ramsay said the competition level among the entrants was ''very high''.

''Everyone has enjoyed the day in the sunshine,'' she said.

Competitors had a challenging array of farm-related modules to get through, such as a fire brigade training exercise, calibrating a direct drill, and an FMG risk-assessment obstacle course.

Inside the local hall were some mind-boggling seated challenges, including ''Introduction to Resource Management Act''.

Another module was called ''From the Farm'', in which competitors had to smell and feel their way through a collection of objects typically found on a farm ''which could be anything from a herb in the vegetable garden to an object from the washhouse,'' Miss Ramsay said.

Another interesting module was ''Social License to Farm''. Competitors had to come up with an interesting farm-related social media post, ''which is about creating a positive media message in the rural sector''.

Coming up with the modules was quite a challenge in itself, Miss Ramsay said.

''There was a few late nights these last couple weeks, that's for sure. But we got there and it's turned out really well.''

It was Josh Johanson's first go at competing in a Young Farmer event. A shepherd on Ida Valley Station and member of the Upper Manuherikia Young Farmers Club in Omakau, Josh said he decided to make the trip after some encouragement from fellow club members.

''It's just good to travel around, meet new people and see a bit of countryside. You learn a lot; it's quite a productive sport to get into if you're keen on farming,'' he said.

- By Alice Scott

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