The turnip and sunflower crop may tower above Zara Cosh on the Huntly dairy farm she manages - but her height won't be holding her back when she competes in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato Young Farmer Regionals next weekend.

She's one of three women who've made it through to the regionals and organisers say it's a first to have so many taking part.

"The farming industry isn't a man's domain now, and more and more women are getting into it which is pretty awesome to see. And we're more than capable of doing the job a guy can do. And just by having a mostly female district in the district challenge and having three women in the regionals this year, it just shows you men don't have to do it all anymore," Cosh said

Over In Te Awamutu in the Waipa district, Racheal Phillips is also preparing for the competition and has been brushing up on her mechanical skills with the help of a few friends.


"I've got four-hundred flashcards to practice on Saturday night, just questions and answers just little things like that. But hopefully working on a farm will be to my benefit. Most of the modules and things are day-to-day skills that I should be used to doing on the farm," Phillips said

It's the 27-year-old's first time on the other side of the fence - in the past she's helped organise the regional competition and says it's not just practical farm skills they're being judged on.

"You've got to know about your soils and the fertilizers you're using. Then too, the environmental side to that which is obviously a big issue in agriculture. Also, we have an exam on Friday evening - that could be anything technical, financial, a business plan, cropping or any major technical decisions you might make on a farm.

The competition which is now in its 50th year celebrates the best of the best in the industry.

Two-hundred-and-fifty farmers across the country have been whittled down to fifty-five to take part in the seven Young Farmers regions. Those winners will then end up battling it out for the Young Farmer of the Year title.

"We're just going to go in there, have a laugh and hopefully just enjoy it," Phillips said.

And maybe change some perceptions along the way.

"There's plenty of women now running farms and successful businesses and I think it's showing that by how many farmers are coming through in the Young Farmers' contest."


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