The first qualifying rounds for the next FMG Young Farmer of the Year kick off next week.

Eighteen district contests will be held across the country before Christmas.

The events will help find 56 competitors who will clash in seven FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional finals early next year.

"I've entered to test my skills and knowledge and to meet other young farmers," said Lincoln Young Farmers member Tom Adkins.

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"This is my first time competing and I'd really like to make it through to the later stages of the contest in years to come."

Lincoln Young Farmers member Tom Adkins shearing sheep at Telford. Photo / Supplied
Lincoln Young Farmers member Tom Adkins shearing sheep at Telford. Photo / Supplied

The 20-year-old, who was raised on a sheep and beef farm near Whanganui, is studying a Diploma in Farm Management at Lincoln University.

He's landed a job working as a shepherd at Te Mania Angus in North Canterbury this summer.

"I got the job after going up there on a club field trip. I'm really passionate about beef and sheep breeding and genetics," he said.

Adkins has signed up for the district contest at Springston, southwest of Christchurch, on October 19th.

He'll face off against Wairarapa-born Sarah Whiteman, 23, who's an assistant cereal breeder at PGG Wrightson Seeds.

Sarah Whiteman is an assistant cereal breeder at PGG Wrightson Seeds. Photo / Supplied
Sarah Whiteman is an assistant cereal breeder at PGG Wrightson Seeds. Photo / Supplied

She helps develop new varieties of wheat and barley. It's her second time entering the contest.

"Last year I entered in the 'have a go' category, which enables people to complete the modules in pairs," said Whiteman.

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"It was heaps of fun and a great confidence booster. I don't have a farming background and it helped me realise I actually know what I'm doing."

Whiteman will compete in her own right next month, meaning she'll be eligible to qualify for a spot in the Tasman regional final in March.

"I've entered to challenge myself, learn new things and meet people from other NZ Young Farmers clubs," she said.

The first district contest kicks off in Palmerston North on October 5th.

Sarah Whiteman helps develop new varieties of wheat and barley. Photo / Supplied
Sarah Whiteman helps develop new varieties of wheat and barley. Photo / Supplied

The events are designed to test the practical and theoretical skills of competitors.

"Everyone has their own reason for entering the district contests," said Danielle Holland from NZ Young Farmers.

"It's a chance for members to benchmark themselves, have fun, and importantly to qualify for the next stage of the contest."

The FMG Young Farmer of the Year is an iconic contest which began in 1969 and showcases the country's food and fibre sector.

The event is supported by FMG, Ravensdown, Honda, WorkSafe, STIHL, Lincoln University, Massey University, Southfuels/Northfuels, Betacraft and New Holland.

The dates of each district contest are listed below. More details can be found at fmgyoungfarmercontest.co.nz
Northern

9th November – Kaikohe
30th November – Waimauku

Waikato/Bay of Plenty

16th November – Reporoa
23th November – Huntly
23th November – Morrinsville
30th November - Piopio

East Coast

9th November – Pongoroa
30th November – Gisborne

Taranaki/Manawatu

5th October – Palmerston North
9th November – Feilding
16th November – Eltham
30th November – Stratford

Aorangi

12th October – Waipopo Farm
19th October – Mt Somers

Tasman

19th October – Springston
26th October – Rangiora

Otago/Southland

19th October – Middlemarch
16th November – Mossburn