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Emphatic Winners in Northland Dairy Awards

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11pm, March 10

Emphatic Winners in Northland Dairy Awards

The 2015 Northland Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Brad and Lesley Roberts, were emphatic winners – claiming the title along with six of nine merit awards on offer.

“I don’t think anyone was surprised when they were named the winners at the end of the night, as the merit awards proved they are very strong across all areas of their farm business,” Northland regional managers Ian Douglas and Rowena Butterworth-Boord said.

Brad and Lesley Roberts won $8500 in prizes at the 2015 Northland Dairy Industry Awards held at Toll Stadium in Whangarei last night . The other big winners were Karla Frost, who won the 2015 Northland Farm Manager of the Year contest, and Mike Jensen, the region’s 2015 Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Roberts are 25% sharemilking 900 cows for Brad’s parents, Lloyd and Kaye Roberts, at Kamo. The couple entered the awards to learn more about themselves and how they can improve their business.

“We also believe that having entered the competition and therefore having showed a willingness to improve ourselves, that this will aid us in furthering our career.”

Brad Roberts holds a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University and Lesley Roberts has a Bachelor of Physical Education from Otago University.

Their farm staff and farming systems are keys to their success. “We have committed and extremely capable staff who make the day-to-day running of the farm smooth. They all go the extra mile, for which we are grateful. Much of our success is due to this.”

The couple are aged 31 and 34 years and aim to purchase a 200-cow farm or progress to a larger 50% sharemilking position.

The runners-up in the Northland Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year contest were Okaihau equity sharemilkers Grant and Danielle Petterd, who won $4500 in prizes.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, New Zealand Farm Source, Ravensdown, and Triplejump, along with industry partner Primary ITO.

The 2015 Northland Farm Manager of the Year, Karla Frost, gets to work with an amazing group of industry experts and leading farmers as the farm manager for Northland’s Agricultural Research Farm.

The farm is at Dargaville and milks 250 cows, and provides a challenging and incredible learning environment for Miss Frost, who won $6750 in prizes.

“The work here involves incredible amounts of monitoring and recording, and it is essential that everything is done accurately and in line with best practice. I believe that this is a key strength as high standards are expected in every aspect of the farming system. I feel that there is no better way to learn, and as the position is sole-charge it is my personal responsibility to ensure that this is achieved.”

She placed third in last year’s competition but found it to be a useful exercise through the feedback she received and people she met. “Through the competition I had the chance to meet a huge range of farmers and industry specialists. These contacts have become extremely valuable and helpful over the past year.”

Aged 24 years, Miss Frost has a Bachelor of Agri-Science from Massey University and plans to progress up the industry ladder.

Okaihau Farm Manager Joe Foster was placed second in the farm manager contest, winning $3000, and third was Kaikohe farm manager Loretta Smyth, who won $2000.

The 2015 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year, Mike Jensen, entered the dairy awards to get his name out there, get involved in dairy farming events and to improve his farming skills and knowledge.

The 31-year-old has previously worked as a bricklayer, construction worker and in oyster farming. His switch to dairying has been successful, with the win netting him $5400 in prizes.

Mr Jensen began his dairy farming career in 2011 and is currently 2IC on a Waipapa farm owned by Peter Thorpe milking 500 cows. He moves to a herd manager’s role in June and aims to be contract milking within five years.

“In my new role my goals for the farm are to meet my bonus targets and maintain the farm to a high standard. These targets include Somatic Cell Count, less than 10% empty rate and a grade free season.”

Runner-up in the Northland trainee contest was Maromaku 2IC Kim Simpson, winning $1300. Kamo farm assistant Elliot Nelson, was placed third and won $900 in prizes.

Northland Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Brad and Lesley Roberts, will host a field day on April 9, while Farm Manager of the Year, Karla Frost, will host a field day on the Dargaville farm she manages on March 31. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on

Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:

• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Brad & Lesley Roberts

• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Dan Noakes & Jodi Antunovich

• Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Grant & Danielle Petterd

• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Brad & Lesley Roberts

• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Brad & Lesley Roberts

• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Brad & Lesley Roberts

• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Dan Noakes & Jodi Antunovich

• Triplejump Risk Management Award – Brad & Lesley Roberts

• Westpac Business Performance Award – Brad & Lesley Roberts

Farm Manager Merit Awards:

• Bell Booth Best Livestock Award – Karla Frost

• Northland Regional Council Environment Award – Joe Foster

• Webb Ross McNabb Kilpatrick Leadership Award – Loretta Smyth

• Fonterra Best Practice Award – Karla Frost

• New Zealand Farm Source Farm Management Award – Karla Frost

• Primary ITO Human Resource Management Award – Joe Foster

• Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Luke Boylan

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

• Johnston O’Shea Encouragement Award – Rangi Rix

• Northland Farm Services Farming Knowledge Award – Lui Peti

• Northland Metal Industries Leadership Award – Teneale Horsford

• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Kim Simpson

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