A Waipukurau man who grew up in a city has secured the final spot in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Hawke's Bay.

Joseph Watts, 28, won the fiercely-contested East Coast regional final in Dannevirke on Saturday.

"I'm pretty stoked, but I'm a bit nervous about the next couple of months. I don't have long to prepare for the grand final in July," he said.

Joseph Watts. Photo / Supplied
Joseph Watts. Photo / Supplied

Watts is a technical field representative with PGG Wrightson and was raised in Palmerston North.

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"I never really knew anything about agriculture, I hadn't had an introduction to it," he said.

"Once I did, I realised the potential was there for anyone to shape a rewarding career in the primary industries."

The regional final saw eight finalists tackle a series of gruelling modules at Pukemiro Station in Dannevirke.

Listen to Jamie Mackay's interview with Young Farmer of the Year host Te Radar below:

They included using a drone to spot a water leak, a butchery challenge, weighing and shearing sheep and artificial breeding.

Contestants' grasp of agricultural-related road rules were tested by a police officer in a module involving the New Holland police tractor.

Alice Speedy testing her knife skills in the butchery challenge. Photo / Supplied
Alice Speedy testing her knife skills in the butchery challenge. Photo / Supplied

The practical event was followed by a fast-paced agri-knowledge quiz hosted by Te Radar at the Dannevirke Town Hall.

The prestigious contest has undergone a major overhaul since marking its 50th anniversary in Invercargill last year.

"We're now showcasing all aspects of what it means to be a modern food producer," said Te Radar.

Joseph has several qualifications from Massey University, including a Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies. This was his first regional final.

The win will mean he will represent the East Coast at the grand final in Hawke's Bay on July 4-6.

Hamish Hammond is tested on his knowledge of the road rules by Constable Aaron Satchwell. Photo / Supplied
Hamish Hammond is tested on his knowledge of the road rules by Constable Aaron Satchwell. Photo / Supplied

"I'd like to think I will have a bit of an advantage because it will be easier to rally local support," he said.

Watts's win netted him $12,000 worth of prizes, including an XR150 Honda farm bike and a WorkSafe leadership course in Wellington.

The Tikokino Young Farmers member was named the most tech-savvy contestant, and took home awards for outstanding leadership skills and showcasing innovation.

Greytown contract milker Hamish Hammond, 29, came second.

Rob Barry, 27, who is the sustainability lead for the BEL Group of farms, placed third. He won the food award and the prize for championing environmental best practice.

Jono Green erects a two-wire fence in a head-to-head challenge. Photo / Supplied
Jono Green erects a two-wire fence in a head-to-head challenge. Photo / Supplied

All seven finalists who will clash in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Hawke's Bay are now known.

They are Matt McRae, Alan Harvey, Georgie Lindsay, Alex Field, Joseph Watts, Emma Dangen and James Robertson.

The Young Farmer of the Year contest began in 1969 and showcases the country's agri-food sector.

Chris O'Leary shears a sheep. Photo / Supplied
Chris O'Leary shears a sheep. Photo / Supplied

The contest is supported by FMG, Ravensdown, Honda, WorkSafe, Zero Harm Farm, STIHL, Lincoln University, Massey University, Southfuels, Northfuels, Betacraft and New Holland.

East Coast regional final results:

1st: Joseph Watts

2nd: Hamish Hammond

3rd: Rob Barry

Innovation Award: Joseph Watts
People Award: Joseph Watts
Food Award: Rob Barry
Environment Award: Rob Barry
Technology Award: Joseph Watts