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Owaka herd manager is Farming to Succeed

3 July 2012

Owaka herd manager is Farming to Succeed

Owaka herd manager, Shane Bichan, says his eyes have been opened to opportunities in the agriculture industry after attending AgITO’s South Island Farming to Succeed programme sponsored by FIL New Zealand.

“It was brilliant, it was an eye opener, I came home on such a buzz. I came away with a new mentor – course facilitator Grant Taylor is an amazing man.

“He talked about turning your blinkers off and seeing what else is out there – I would’ve been happy to listen to him each day even without the farms we visited.

“We talked about where we’re going and different opportunities. My partner and I have started our first venture and bought 50 calves, so we’re trying to sell them at the moment.”

Farming to Succeed runs once yearly over five days, during which participants go through a structured series of workshops, farm visits and discussion groups.

Participants work with course facilitator Grant Taylor and other leading agribusiness practitioners to explore the key ingredients required for the achievement of personal and business success. Only 25 people are accepted to each course.

Topics covered include career development, staged capital growth and asset management, goal setting and motivation, successful business partnerships, financial development, time management and managing stress.

There are no course fees for Farming to Succeed thanks to FIL who have sponsored Farming to Succeed and its predecessor Bound to Succeed for the last eight years.

“I’ve lived on a dairy farm all my life,” Shane says. “I did my trade as a builder and came back to the family farm. I’ve been back for four years and I’m currently the herd manager milking 420 cows.”

Shane started training with AgITO after his return to dairy farming.

“I’ve done Milk Quality Stage One and Two and Dealing with Dairy Farm Effluent, and all Level 3 courses. I’m currently doing my National Certificate in Agriculture (Level 4). Level 4 is more challenging and puts the pressure on.”

He applied for Farming to Succeed after hearing about the positive experience of a previous year’s attendee.

“My training adviser Russell Stuck said I should try to apply and a good mate of mine’s wife did it last year or the year before and she highly recommended it.”

Shane enjoyed the visits they made to top performing farms as part of the course and highlights the chicken and beef farms visited as stand out to him. They also visited a robotic dairy farm and cropping farm.

“We visited these places to see people who were pushing the boundaries and showing you it could be done. We also went to the FIL factory – I’d like to give a big thanks to them as sponsor.”

For Shane another benefit of the course was meeting the other highly motivated participants.

“I’ve formed a network of contacts and friends – we’re going to organise a catch up soon,” he says. “By the end of it everyone had these new ideas, it was great talking to everyone else and hearing what they thought.”

Shane is taking his new ideas and looking to the future and how he will achieve his career goals. He says he has a list of goals pinned to the fridge.

“Farm ownership is the big one,” he says. “We want to be 50:50 sharemilking within five years on the family farm. All the goals we set last year we’ve almost achieved now, we’ve bought calves and paying off the house is the next one.”

After finished his Level 4 training, he is planning to go on and complete AgITO’s National Diploma in Agribusiness Management (Level 5).

“I’m going to go on and do the diploma. I want to do the business management certificate, it’s something I really need to learn about.”

Shane was the recipient of the FIL Emerging Leader Award at Farming to Succeed and is enthusiastic when asked if he would recommend the course to others.

“I’ve recommended it to everyone already,” he laughs. “It’s a shame there isn’t another course like it that isn’t for farmers, I’ve got townie mates who could be doing things differently and who need a course like Farming to Succeed. It’s one of the most valuable courses I’ve ever done.”

About AgITO
Agriculture ITO (AgITO) provides leadership in education and training, develops national qualifications, maintains national standards and provides on-going support for their trainees and employers. AgITO training is subsidised by industry and Government. For more information on our qualifications, please visit


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