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Dark horse takes the win in Aorangi

April 22, 2014

Dark horse takes the win in Aorangi

James Davidson is the last Grand Finalist to be named in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest after earning top spot at the Aorangi Regional Final Monday 21 April in Fairlie.

Crowds packed the Mackenzie Showgrounds as the eight Young Farmers demonstrated their skills, strength and stamina in the practical challenges including constructing drafting gates, digger operation and carving a wood sculpture using a chainsaw. Later in the evening the Mackenzie Community Centre was abuzz for the evening show and quiz round.

It was Mr Davidson’s first attempt at the regional level and admitted he was quite shocked after winning what he says was a rather difficult competition.

“I was hoping to learn from the experience and scope it all out,” he said. “My goal was just to make it to the top four, so it was a definite surprise to win.”

Mr Davidson went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

Nigel Woodhead, of the Pendarves Club and Sam Bryan, Foothills Club, placed second and third respectively. At the district round of competition in October last year Mr Davidson placed third, behind Mr Woodhead and Mr Bryan.

Rounding out the top four was Cole Harris of the Milford-Clandeboye Club.

Mr Davidson also won the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge and Mr Woodhead took out the Ravensdown Agri-skills Challenge.

Steven Smit, of the Glenavy-Waimate Club, who placed fifth overall, won Silver Fern Farms Agri-sports Challenge and sixth place getter, Marshall Smith, of the Upper Waitaki Club, won the Lincoln University Agri-growth Challenge.

Mr Davidson says his diverse range of farming experience and university education gave him the edge for the win.

“A lot of the stuff you learn in university that you never thought you would use comes back to you,” said Mr Davidson. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Agriculture from Lincoln University.

Mr Davidson currently works as 2IC on a 1400 cow dairy farm in Darfield where he hopes to gain more experience before he takes the next step up in his career.

The ultimate goal, he says, is farm ownership, but, in the meantime Mr Davidson is working on developing his recently purchased 70Ha grazing and silage block at Glentunnel.

Outside of work he enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle fishing, shooting and playing squash.

In preparation for the Grand Final Mr Davidson says there will be plenty of study, particularly on areas he is not so familiar with such as forestry and beef. He will also rely on his professional networks and contacts he has made through his Young Farmers Club. “I’ll be going out with reps, really picking people’s brains,” he says.

The Grand Final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest will take place 3-5 July in Christchurch where seven competitors from across the country will compete for the coveted champion’s title and over $300,000 in prizes.

Be sure to tune in to ‘Road To The Young Farmer Final’. The series covers each of the seven Regional Finals and follows the seven top achievers who make it through to the Grand Final. Catch all the action starting Sunday 18th May, 9.30pm exclusively on TVNZ Heartland.

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