Arjan van’t Klooster planned to spend plenty of time preparing for the Aorangi Regional FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition.
However, his dairy farming work became so busy he ended up with just “three or four days beforehand” to do some cramming – reminiscent of his university days studying commerce and agriculture.
Just as he graduated with a bachelor’s degree, so he won the Aorangi title in Methven last Saturday.
The 25-year-old represented the Glenavy Young Farmers Club, where he serves as treasurer. He goes on to contest the national final in Manawatu in July, vying for the title of FMG Young Farmer of the Year against winners from the other six regions around New Zealand.
Mr van’t Klooster said he definitely intended to put more time into the build-up for that.
“I want to give it a good nudge.”
His tilt at the title began last year, when he finished fourth in the Aorangi event. He thought he would see if he could “do a bit better” this year.
Although he did not have much time around his job as a lower-order sharemilker on his parents’ 1200-cow property, plus running 600 cows with fiancee Kelsi Chamberlain on a 164ha farm they bought last year, the skills he acquires every day saw him through.
Initially he was stunned to have won, but on reflection realised he was constantly learning and applying knowledge in the field.
The competition organisers said he performed well across all facets of the contest, winning the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge that included a tough technical exam, and the Massey University Agri-growth Challenge where he was grilled by a panel of interview judges.
The practical component was another strength, they said.
Among his $12,500 of prizes is a Honda XR150 motorbike.
Mr van’t Klooster admits the past five years have been “real busy”. He wants to “step back a bit” in the near future, but that could depend on how well he does in Manawatu. He has several years left before reaching the competition’s age-limit of 30, so if he does not win this year, he will try again.
But it would be better to do it the first time, he said.
Glenavy club-mate John Mehrtens, who is already 30, bowed out by coming third in Methven and winning the Agri-sports challenge. Timaru’s Toby How was second.
Former Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil Alan Harvey came second in the Otago regional final in Roxburgh on February 18, representing the Upper Manuherikia Young Farmers Club.