North Otago farmer fulfils childhood dream to compete

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey. Photo: Supplied
North Otago farmer Alan Harvey. Photo: Supplied

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has dreamed of competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final since he was a child. He'll finally get the chance in Hawke's Bay this July.

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has ambitious plans to double the size of his sheep flock.

The 28-year-old's family farm in North Otago has 500 Border-Romney cross ewes, 150-200 trading cattle and arable crops.

He's in the process of farm succession and is set to take over in July.

"My plan is to double ewe numbers to 1000. They're an unusual cross, which you don't often see," he said.

"I'm going to have to grow the flock naturally by breeding my own replacements, as opposed to buying them in."

Harvey's family has farmed the crossbred sheep on the rolling dryland 190 hectare property since the late 1800's.

"They suit our country. They're hardy, produce well and the ewes handle our early lambing date," he said.

Lambing starts at the beginning of July, which ensures lambs are at target weight and sold before Christmas when it starts getting dry.

The early start isn't ideal this winter. Harvey will be in the Hawke's Bay representing Aorangi at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.

"I expect to have new born lambs on the ground before I head to the grand final."

"I haven't quite worked out who will be looking after the flock while I'm away competing. I might have to grovel to a neighbour," he laughed.

Harvey also runs 220 beef cattle, which will drop in number to make room for the expanding sheep flock.

It's been a hectic few months for the Five Forks Young Farmers member since he won the Aorangi Young Farmer of the Year title.

In March, Harvey started a new job as operations manager at Borst Holdings Limited in North Otago.

The privately-owned company operates four large-scale dairy farms, and a runoff.

The dairy farms cover a combined area of 992 hectares and milk 3500 cows.

"It's been a really exciting change for me," he said.

"It's my first time working in the dairy sector since I spent two summers on dairy farms while I was studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University."

Harvey is responsible for adding technology to the business, compliance, nutrient management, staff and helping to improve all aspects of the operation.

"I haven't had much experience managing staff in the past, so that's another thing which has been new for me," he said.

"The dairy farms are all irrigated with either centre pivots, k-lines, or roto rainers."

The job has provided Harvey with a much-needed refresher on the dairy sector in the lead-up to fiercely-contested grand final.

His win at February's regional final was his fourth attempt at clinching a spot in the coveted grand final.

In the past two years he lost to Nigel Woodhead and Logan Wallace, who both went on to win their respective grand finals.

"It's awesome that I finally get to have a crack at the grand final. This is something I have aspired to do since watching the contest on television as a young fella," he said.

Prior to moving into the dairy sector, Harvey worked for Oamaru-based Agri Planz and was also an agronomist for Agriseeds covering the Otago and Southland regions.


Name: Alan Harvey
Region: Aorangi
Occupation: Sheep and beef farmer and dairy operations manager
Age: 28

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