Turakina stock manager Alex Field dug in deep at the 51st FMG Younger Farmer grand finale in Hawke's Bay over the weekend to take away the people's award for outstanding leadership skills.
The 26-year-old competed against six others from around the country from Thursday morning till Saturday evening in several practical and technical challenges.
"I loved it, it really is an experience and it's surreal looking back on it," Field said.
Some of the challenges included having to assess health and safety risks using a virtual reality simulator, make sausages, calve a fake cow, drive a large grape harvester, install an irrigation system for fruit trees, market a line of sheep and sit an agri-business exam.
"It was a goliath of an exam they threw at us that was mind-boggling but it really put us to the test," Field said.
On Saturday evening, competitors had to compete in a quiz and energy was running low, Field said.
"I just looked down the row and could see everyone was on the last bit of puff, so I was relieved to know I wasn't the only one that was tired."
Before the competition, competitors had to prepare an innovation project and create an hour-long presentation of what their footprint looked like in the community, both of which they presented to judges over the weekend.
To qualify for the grand final, Field won one of two spots in the district competition and then went on to win Manawatu-Taranaki region which secured him a spot in the final.
This is the third year he has competed. In the first year he only got through to the district final, while in the second year he reached the regional final.
Field began preparing for the regional competition in April and has been studying since March.
He said he's been blown away by the outstanding support he's had throughout the competition.
"You ring up a number and then they will put you through to three more numbers, the support through the agricultural industry is just unbelievable," he said.
Field received his award in front of a crowd of almost 700 in Napier on Saturday evening.
"The award, apart from first place, was second on my list so it's something I'll hold close to my chest," Field said.
Auckland-based business graduate James Robertson took out the overall Young Farmer of the Year title, followed by Central Hawke's Bay technical field representative Joseph Watts in second and Waikato vet Emma Dangen in third.
It is back to reality now for Field as he prepares to begin tailing lambs and gets ready for another lambing season in August.
"It will be interesting to see how well I adapt back into everyday work," Field said.