Carpe Diem Dairies of Woodville, run by Nick and Rose Bertram, lived up to its name in seizing the day by winning the 2020 Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year.

Nick and Rose farm 200 hectares on Martin Rd in a 50/50 herd-owning contract with owners Barry and Carol McNeil.

Nick has vast experience in the industry, leaving school to complete a one-year farm training course, working as a farm assistant, travelling overseas to the UK where he worked for the University of Reading Centre for Dairy Research, managing a small farm near Bath for a year before spending a year on a large ranch in Montana, America.

Returning to New Zealand in 2010 Nick worked as 2IC on a 700-cow farm for two years for Matt Honeyset, managing for a year, then contract milking for David and Lorraine Osborne for two years and a further two years contract milking for Andrew and Helen Hardie.

In 2014 he won HB/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year and New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year, which he says has opened the door to the position with the McNeils.

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The farm is predominantly flat land.
The farm is predominantly flat land.

Nick and Rose where runners-up in the Share Farmer competition last year.

Nick says focusing on the dairy awards has made them conscious of all the key elements of good dairy farming.

Rose grew up in Western Australia gaining a Diploma in Early Childhood and a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Education.

Nick has a 12-year-old daughter and he and Rose have four sons.

Rose works at Tararua REAP as Early Childhood Co-ordinator. She has also completed a Diploma of Agribusiness Management.

Neither started with a background in farming but have become passionate about dairying and since moving to the Martin Rd property they have enjoyed the freedom to manage and develop the property.

The farm milks 440 cows on 150ha of 75 per cent flat. An adjacent block is used as a run-off for 350 cows in winter.

They are particularly pleased with environmental developments installed through a Fonterra Farm Environment Plan, which has resulted in riparian plantings, the retirement of 3ha of steeper country into pines, the building of two nutrient traps to intercept dairy runoff and the planting of 500 mixed natives a year into wetlands.

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"We are also keen to be in a position to be able to train and grow our staff for the industry," they say.

"Good people drive profit."

To this end they encouraged both their workers to enter the awards, and Leon McDonald was runner-up Dairy Manager.

Nick is an enthusiastic advocate for the dairy industry and is Tararua Federated Farmers sharemilker representative and is also on the Federated Farmers National Executive for Sharemilkers. He is a trained volunteer fireman.

With Rose's role in a Mainly Music programme each Friday for pre-schoolers at Knox Church and their involvement in farm discussion groups, the couple also took out the Federated Farmers Leadership Merit Award.

Nick and Rose are in their third season on the farm. Looking to the future, they would like to stay where they are for potentially seven more seasons. They are developing a calf-rearing block on land they have bought and plan to build a house on.

The Bertrams raise Wagyu calves to maximise stock income.
The Bertrams raise Wagyu calves to maximise stock income.

They want to be in a position to buy a farm of 400-plus cows within the next seven years.

They are particularly proud of winning five merit awards, taking out the Federated Farmers Leadership Award, the LIC Recording and Productivity Award, Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award, Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award and the Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award.

Runners-up were Featherston farmers Eddie and Janine Bosch who won the DairyNZ Human Resources Award, the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award. Aimee and John Hull, also of Featherston, were third.

The winning farm manager was Stephen Smyllie of Kahutara, Leon McDonald was runner-up and Aled Ellis of Pahiatua was third.

Winning trainee was Tom Quinn of Masterton, second was Brett France, Carterton, and third was Rutger Visser of Featherston.

Nick and Rose hope there will be an opportunity for a farm open-day later in the year.