FOR Southland man Sam Hodsell, winning the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Otago/Southland Regional Final was just a bonus.
The 50/50 sharemilker, of Taramoa, took out the win with a staggering 512 points at the annual competition on Saturday, held at Donovan Park in Invercargill.
“I set out to have a great day and enjoy the experience, so to take out the top spot is pretty great,” he said.
While it was uncertain whether the event would be able to go ahead due to the Covid-19 Alert Level 2 restrictions, 100 people made the most of the smaller than usual turnout.
The eight regional finalists competed in eight modules and battled it out head-to-head in two time and point races.
A written exam and the highly-anticipated FMG Young Farmer of the Year buzzer quiz also tested the regional finalists’ knowledge.
As a third-place finalist in the 2016 regional event, Mr Hodsell was confident going into his second round.
“Obviously, Covid changed the way the competition normally runs, which is disappointing for those who organised it but did a great job putting on [the] event, so credit to them.”
The 28-year-old had spent a bit of time in Australia expanding his agricultural experience on a sheep, beef and cropping farm before coming home to pursue his dairying career.
“Agriculture is it for me, so doing this competition is an extension of what I love to do, so that’s been my main motivation I guess for this competition.”
With the contest based around four strainers – technology and innovation, environment, people, and food – finalists who earned the top points in each strainer also won awards.
The Lincoln University Alumni took out three of the four strainer prizes along with the exam prize. Mr Hodsell will head to the grand final in Christchurch in July to battle it out for the national title.
The runner-up was Tom Blackmore (26), of Central Otago, while first-time competitor George Blyth (21), of Balclutha, took out third place.
New Zealand Young Farmers chief executive Lynda Coppersmith said this year had so far been one of the yet.
“The level of competition this year is absolutely outstanding.
“We have some seriously talented members in our ranks and it is a privilege to watch them all represent the food and fibre sector and grow as young farmers.”