A Taranaki dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in his bid to claim the FMG Young Farmer of the Year title.
Blair Briscoe, 30, will go head-to-head with six other contestants in next month's Taranaki/Manawatū regional final in Whanganui. The qualified builder contract milks 430 cows at Egmont Village and it's his final shot at clinching the coveted accolade.
"I turn 31 at the end of this month, so this is my last chance to qualify for the grand final before I'm too old," he says.
"I'll be going there to win. I'm really excited, but knowing that it's my final go is a major driver to take it more seriously."
It will be Briscoe's second attempt at winning a regional final. He last competed when the prestigious event was held in Hāwera in 2017.
Before moving to the other side of Mt Taranaki, Briscoe spent three years contract milking in Okato.
During his time in the area he rebuilt Coastal Young Farmers and is serving his second stint as the club's chair.
The hotly contested Taranaki/Manawatū regional final is being held on April 6.
Contestants will tackle a series of gruelling practical and theoretical modules at Cooks Gardens in Whanganui.
It will be followed by a dinner and fast-paced agri-knowledge quiz hosted by Te Radar at the Whanganui War Memorial Centre.
The other six regional finalists are Alex Field, Ashton Coates, Ben Orchard, James Beattie, Graham Johnson and Sarah Meurk.
Meurk is a trained beauty therapist who lives on a lifestyle block in Hunterville with her husband and their daughter.
The 30-year-old juggles being a mum and working part-time on the farm operated by Feilding High School.
The property runs sheep, beef and milks 60 cows through a robotic dairy.
"Farming is an awesome lifestyle and I'm passionate about getting others involved," says Meurk, who's also a freelance make-up artist.
She was previously a tutor for a government-funded programme getting teenagers engaged in education.
The winner of the regional final will represent the region at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Hawke's Bay in July.
Whanganui will also play host to the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year and AgriKidsNZ regional finals.
A three-member team from Toko School near Stratford has registered to compete in the AgriKidsNZ event.