Winner . . . Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year Tom Adkins. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Tom Adkins finds it ‘‘mindboggling’’ he will be footing it with the country’s best young farmers, after winning the regional competition at the weekend.

The 23-year-old Upper Waitaki Young Farmers chairman competed in the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year in Fairlie at the weekend.

It was his first year competing at the regional level, and he found it ‘‘very challenging’’.

‘‘I’d been up to watch the grand final, and been to districts before, so I’d seen the polar opposites . . .thankfully it was a bit closer to district level than grand final,’’ Mr Adkins said.

Having grown up on a sheep and beef farm, and working as a block manager at Caberfeidh Station — a large-scale intensive sheep and beef farm, in the Hakataramea Valley — Mr Adkins was ‘‘pretty stoked’’ one of the practical modules was shearing.

‘‘That fell into my hands quite nicely, having done a reasonable amount of shearing before . . . definitely a major difference between me and some of the other competitors, was that experience on the handpiece.’’

He also loved the quiz night, an event that was not part of the district competitions.

Woodwork . . . Tom Adkins puts the finishing touches on his planter box during one of the challenges. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Spectators were limited due to Covid restrictions, but there were still a few from the Upper Waitaki club present to offer their support, which he appreciated.

After a hunting trip this weekend, Mr Adkins planned on ‘‘hitting the books’’, especially brushing upon his cropping, machinery and horticulture knowledge, for the grand final, being held in Whangarei in July.

‘‘I’m super excited for it, it’s going to be a big eye-opener . . . it’s a bit mind-boggling to think that I’m one of the seven contestants going to it. They’ve always been people I’ve looked up to so much, which is kind of weird to think.’’

His parents, who were heavily involved in the Marton Young Farmers when he was a child, would be there in support.

‘‘They were ecstatic — super, super proud. They can’t wait to come up.’’

Mr Adkins thanked the Mackenzie Young Farmers members, who he said ran a great event. Runner-up was Lachlan Angland (28), of Pendarves Young Farmers, and third was Peter O’Connor from Hinds.

Organisers said entries for this year’s competition were up 30% on the previous year, despite the uncertainties surrounding Covid.