Could the next Young Farmer of the Year be a woman?
New Zealand Young Farmers recently announced the appointment of its first female chief executive and its second board chairwoman, and now it is calling for more women to enter the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition.
The 2019 competition, which will begin with the Christchurch district contest on October 6, has been revamped to entice more women to enter and to help showcase the country's food story.
The TeenAg competition has also been rebranded as the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year.
''We've just celebrated our 50th anniversary, which is an amazing achievement,'' Hinds dairy farmer and contest board member Cole Groves said.
''However, if we don't make some major changes now, this contest won't be relevant in another 50 years.''
Awards for the highest-scoring competitor in each of the five challenges, from agri-business to agri-skills, were being replaced by new awards assessing contestants' skills and knowledge across innovation, food, people, environment and technology.
''We're hoping the changes will encourage more women to give the contest a go,'' Mr Groves said.
''We want to expand contestants' knowledge beyond just fencing and identifying different types of fertiliser.''
The contest would also be used to better tell New Zealand's paddock-to-plate food story, he said.
''That can often get forgotten. There is a huge amount of public pressure on the primary industries at the moment.
''We're all food producers and showcasing what we do is vital.''
The new round of competitions begins with the Christchurch district contest at the Kirwee Showgrounds, near Christchurch, on Saturday, October 6.
Organiser Douglas Richards said there were 12 modules planned to test the skills of local competitors from 9am, with further activities planned after lunch and a four-round quiz later in the afternoon.
''In the last couple of years there has been a quite a few women competing locally, so hopefully that will continue.''
Earlier this year, Vanessa Robinson and Megan Hands represented the Christchurch district in the Tasman region final.