Three Kiwi agricultural leaders have been named regional winners in the 2020 Syngenta Growth Awards.
The Growth Awards recognises leading growers, farm advisers and industry innovators from different regions across Australia and New Zealand and showcases their contribution to the industry.
Graeme Jones from PGG Wrightson seeds and Roger Blyth from Seed and Field Services both won for productivity, while Linda Peacock of Kiwi Fruit Vine Health, won for sustainability.
The regional winners will go onto the final stage of judging, with overall winners to be announced early next year.
The standard of entries was high this year, and the regional winners should be proud of their achievement, Managing Director and Country Head of Syngenta Australia and New Zealand, Paul Luxton said.
"There is a wealth of talent in our industry. Recognising individuals who are leading the way, encouraging and empowering them is vital to the future of New Zealand's agribusiness sector."
Nominees were this year asked to complete a series of challenging questions designed not only to demonstrate their achievements and their expertise, but also to uncover their views about collaboration across the industry and on topics from future agricultural challenges to food security.
While the regional winners represented a range of diversity, careers, locations and achievements, there were some common threads around a passion for the future of the industry and a commitment to sharing and learning.
"It's wonderful to see so much optimism, innovation and passion in our industry – though it is certainly going to make choosing the ultimate winners a very tough job," Luxton said.
The 2020 Syngenta Growth Awards New Zealand regional winners are:
Jones is an adviser with PGG Wrightson seeds in Methven. He has been in the industry for 40 years. He thinks New Zealand is the ideal place for specialist seed production.
"We are seeing increasing need for international seed multiplication especially around demand for vegetable and specialist seed production. We quite often see international seed demand come in cycles but at the moment, it's more consistent year-on-year for vegetable seed. The seed needs to be grown somewhere and New Zealand with its water and soil type means we are well placed for small seed production."
Blyth is an adviser with Seed and Field Services in Canterbury, but before he was an agronomist, he was an award-winning grower.
When it comes to productivity, he says the secret is a combination of good basics and good tech.
"My goal is to increase the level of production of our growers – they are averaging around 80t/ha but there is more production to be had. My goal in the next three years is to have that production up to 100t/ha of saleable potatoes. It's perfectly feasible to think we can achieve this. We have smart farmers, and the technology is available. It's about getting the basics right and the right technology."
Peacock is the Industry Liaison and Technical specialist with Kiwi Fruit Vine Health. She has been in the kiwi fruit sector for 30 years in roles ranging from grower to mentor, and her current role focuses strongly on sustainability.
One of the keys to a sustainable industry is securing resources including land, Peacock said.
"There is a world population out there that needs to be fed and there is an economy that is reliant on primary produce, so agriculture needs to be successful. We need our share of water resources to successfully grow agricultural crops, we need access to labour and strong science funding, and most of all, we need to keep our social licence to operate."