6 Jul 2015

Canterbury man wins young farmer award

5:28 pm on 6 July 2015

The winner of this year's national young farmer contest is recovering from what he calls the most gruelling competition he has ever been involved in.

Mid-Canterbury dairy farmer Matt Bell won by a slight margin over the East Coast's Sully Alsop, after a count-back of practical scores.

Matt Bell, 2015 Young Farmer of the Year.

Matt Bell on the way to becoming 2015 Young Farmer of the Year. Photo: SUPPLIED / NZ Young Farmers

Seven farmers from around the country competed in challenges including fencing, shearing, a business exam, interviews and speeches at the three day competition in Taupo at the weekend.

The 28-year old, who is in his first season of equity sharemilking, says the win hasn't quite sunk in.

"It's everything I imagined a grand final should be," he said.

"The technical day was extremely challenging; it really pushed your mental knowledge and ability.

"And then the practical day, that's got to be the toughest practical day I've ever had, in terms of physically demanding, technically demanding - it pushed you in both aspects.

"I was exhausted throughout the day - and then we jump on the agri-sports and the first thing we have to do is a five minute spin class with no bloody seats on the bike!"

He had watched the contest on television when he was young, and winning it had been a goal for many years.

"I originally entered the contest just because you get a cool hat and a free shirt and then I got a taste for it.

He was spurred on further by making the grand final in 2013.

"The prizes and all those things are superb, and I'd never turn them down, but that's not what motivated me.

"It's the honour and the prestige and the history that goes along with winning the contest, the guys who have gone before you and the calibre of people who's names are on the trophy.

"It still hasn't set in I don't think, about actually winning," he said.

Matt Bell works on a fully irrigated Aorangi farm that runs more than 1000 cows. In the next year he and his fiancé will become equity managers in their bid to become farm owners.