Alan Harvey is hoping it will be fourth time lucky in the Young Farmer of the Year competition.
The 27-year-old agricultural consultant has been a regional finalist three times, but this is his first tilt representing his original club, Five Forks, in the Aorangi event on February 23.
Mr Harvey has returned to where he grew up – a sheep and beef farm on Airedale Rd. His father, Neil, is the fifth generation of Harveys to farm the property and Mr Harvey hopes one day to be the sixth.
He first joined the Five Forks Young Farmers Club at the age of 15 and helped to establish a club at Waitaki Boys’ High School while he was a pupil there.
When he was studying for his agricultural science honours degree at Lincoln University and while working further north after graduating, he became a member of local clubs to continue his involvement.
He was the youngest-ever Federated Farmers arable chairman when he took the helm in North Canterbury, and was fourth in the Young Farmer of the Year Tasman regional final in 2016.
A move to Central Otago to be an Agriseeds agronomist led him to the Upper Manuherikia Young Farmers Club. As its representative, he contested two consecutive Otago-Southland regional finals, coming second last year and winning the agri-skills challenge.
Nearly a year ago, Mr Harvey came back to Oamaru “for a job as well as being closer to the home farm”.
He now works for Agri Planz, an environmental planning management service for farmers. His role is a mix of technology and on-the-ground skills, including farm mapping, design and development.
He helps out at the family farm in his spare time, and has joined New Zealand Land Search and Rescue as well as the Five Forks Young Farmers Club.
The latter has produced two Aorangi regional finalists this year – the other is Kerry Watson, who featured in the Oamaru Mail in November.
Mr Harvey said he does not practise for the agri-skills components of the competition. He figures he gets enough training with practical tasks such as livestock handling, fencing and tinkering with machinery on the home farm.
He also has considerable carpentry experience from having built a portable home from a shipping container. When the water, drainage and electricity were disconnected, it could be carted on the back of a truck.
For the theory components of the Young Farmer competition, Mr Harvey knows he will have to keep up-to-date with primary sector research and developments, and abreast of “hot topics” such as disease incursions, water quality and Brexit.
Some of the regional finals he had been in were stand-alone fixtures and others had been incorporated into A&P shows. The Aorangi event is being held during the North Otago A&P Show at the Oamaru Showgrounds.
there, four years ago, it proved a huge attraction for regular show-goers and for visitors specifically supporting the contestants.
Mr Harvey expected there would be a strong contingent of Five Forks fans, including his family and friends, cheering on Miss Watson and himself.
The other contenders are Campbell Sommerville, Ezekiel Turner and Billy Dowle, from the Methven Young Farmers Club; Adam Judd and William Ellis, from the Timaru club; and Josh McAtamney, from Hinds.
The practical challenges are held throughout the Saturday, then evening speech and quiz sessions take place at the Loan and Merc in Harbour St.
The winner will go on to the national final in Hawke’s Bay on July 5 and 6.