The 2021 Share Farmers of the Year are driven, professional and high-achieving siblings who benchmark excellence within the industry.
Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj from Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa were named the 2021 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Waikato's Christopher Vila became the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Ruth Connolly from Waikato was announced the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $210,000.
Share Farmer head judge, Jacqui Groves from Westpac, said Manoj and Sumit impressed the judges with glowing reports from current and past employers and employees.
"They have amazing relationships with two sets of owners, who really believe in them and are following the boys' dream."
The judges were also impressed with their on-farm presentation, which used drone footage from their family farm in Northern India to explain their history and where they are from. "They literally took us there."
"We were pretty blown away after meeting them," said Jacqui. "They became 'our boys' and they benchmarked excellence."
The brothers are 50/50 sharemilkers on Andrew and Monika Arbuthnott, Geoff Arends and Ester Romp's 285ha, 460-cow Eketahuna property.
Both Manoj and Sumit have entered the Awards previously, with Sumit placing third in the 2018 Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager category.
They say entering the Awards programme has created an excellent network within the industry and valuable feedback from judges.
"We overcame the lack of a network by engaging more and more in dairy industry events."
"The New Zealand dairy farming system is totally different from back home in India and it really appeals to us," they say.
"It's very rewarding as we can see the improvements we make on-farm and there is a culture unlike any other industry."
"The boys were simply superb," says fellow Share Farmer judge John Numan. "Manoj and Sumit were professional, driven and high-achieving farmers. They were very impressive."
To win the national title and $50,000 in prizes, Manoj and Sumit demonstrated strengths in leadership, health and farm safety, business and community engagement. They also won three merit awards: the Federated Farmers Leadership Award, Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award.
Fellow Share Farmer judge Guy Michaels from DairyNZ says the brothers demonstrated involvement and leadership in the local community and in the dairy community. "They have a willingness to work with others to achieve joint goals and advocate on behalf of others," he said.
An example of this was Manoj and Sumit assisting a family in Wellington who had lost employment due to Covid-19. "They relocated the family and encouraged them into a role within the dairy industry."
Listen to Rowena Duncum interview Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj on The Country below:
The judges also noted that the brothers had a strong health and safety culture on-farm. "They have a long history of recording incidents and actually following through with changes."
Judge Guy Michaels from DairyNZ noted how strong the brothers were in their community involvement and leadership. "They have promoted PrimaryITO courses to everyone in their community and have offered up one of their buildings to ensure the training takes place."
A strong message across the first, second and third positions was that there are progression pathways in the industry.
"Sumit and Manoj, along with the runners-up and third placegetters, realise the importance of being profitable and sustainable."
"You need to be able to save on a very basic level, maximising your income streams and having good cost control," says Guy.
"The message I often hear is that there aren't any progression pathways, it's too hard," says John Numan. "But there are."
"These people are achieving it because they have the right attitude that encourages their employers to promote and back them in their business."
"There are four things you need to progress, and I call it the four A's. Attention to detail, ability to save, ambition and attitude.
"If you've got those things, and the respect of the owner, you'll go far."
The judges also noted a theme across the board this year relating to the strong connections between farm owners, employers, and staff.
"There's a firm link between farming and the environment. It's a generational change, and the message is that change is coming, it's normal and accepted."
"They're discussing environmental matters, sustainability and recycling on a daily basis and there's a general understanding of greenhouse gases and environmental biosecurity."
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and Westpac along with industry partner DairyNZ.
The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, Waikato sharemilkers and equity partners Reuben and Deb Connolly, were described by the judges as the epitome of a young sharemilking couple.
"They are very thorough and motivating," says Jacqui. "They're a young couple working hard and loving every day of their life with their family."
The Connollys have been 50/50 sharemilkers and 20% equity partners with John and Fiona Worsnop on Woolly Farm Ltd's 110ha, 280-cow Otorohanga property for the past four seasons. They won the LIC Recording and Productivity merit award and over $28,000 in prizes.
The judges noted that Reuben and Deb have demonstrated real passion for their cows and breeding. "They had KPIs of capaciousness, fertility, udders and environmental footprint," they said.
Reuben and Deb demonstrated how livestock added value to the business with the multiple use of the herd and the national standard cost scheme and achieved their goal of having a bull accepted into a national sire catalogue.
Central Plateau equity partners Andrea and Blair Muggeridge placed third in the Share Farmer category, winning the DairyNZ Human Resources merit award, the Meridian Farm Environment merit award and almost $20,000 in prizes.
The judges described the Muggeridges as a professional, driven couple who had structured future plans for the business.
"Andrea and Blair demonstrated excellent staff retention and worked hard to ensure their team had a variety of tasks through their working week."
"They've taken many opportunities to upskill themselves, as well as keeping a great work-life balance."
The couple are equity partners with Trevor and Harriet Hamilton, on the Golden Springs 285ha Reporoa property, milking 1080 cows.
The 2021 Dairy Manager of the Year stood out as an immigrant who has come to New Zealand and has spent the past 13 years in the New Zealand dairy industry learning and accumulating knowledge.
Christopher Vila is a Farm Manager on the JA BE Turnwald Family Trust 103.8ha farm, milking 341 cows in Ohaupo. He won just under $22,000 in prizes and also won the DeLaval Livestock Management merit award.
Dairy Manager Head Judge Malcolm Scott from Westpac says Christopher has built a very strong relationship with his farm owners and his family.
"Christopher is the first person the family has employed that is not a family member. Christopher has earned their trust and respect and is growing with this opportunity."
"He's on a farm that is like a goldfish bowl, surrounded by 50-odd houses and lifestyle blocks," says fellow judge Gray Beagley from DairyNZ.
"He understands the property is in the public eye and does everything on-farm to the absolute best of his ability."
"Christopher cares about the neighbouring properties, and rather than spray for weeds, which risks killing urban plantings, he will pull weeds by hand near the boundary fences," says Gray.
"His attention-to-detail is outstanding and he wants to do everything very well."
The judges describe Christopher as a humble, competent and passionate dairy farmer who sets high standards for himself and staff. "He's completely engaged in his role but also understands the importance of getting off-farm and spending time with his wife and young daughter."
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Christopher has a very good understanding of feed management and of the different feeds that are coming in to the farm.
"Feed is really only used to fill the gaps in the deficit periods," says Gray. "He has extremely high animal performance, and a high-quality herd.
"Christopher is keeping himself engaged with the new environment regulations that are rolling out and staying completely informed with what is happening there."
The Dairy Manager judges were impressed by the diverse make-up of the finalists. "There were Kiwis, Argentinians, Filipinos, male, female."
"Some of these immigrants in the dairy industry are still on work visas and have been waiting for some time to get their residency tidied up. Because of the current government inaction, it's been held up and isn't happening," says Malcolm.
"These people are ready to take the next step in their careers, they have contracts ready to sign, but can't move forward in their careers because they are still on work visas and are waiting and waiting for their residency to come through."
"It defies logic."
The Dairy Manager runner-up, Hayden Goodall from Bay of Plenty, won the DairyNZ Employee Engagement and NZDIA Power Play merit awards and $11,000 in prizes. He is farm manager for Matt Gow on his 215ha Matatā farm.
The judges described Hayden as a young, energetic dairy farmer with an urban background who has chosen dairy farming as his career.
"Hayden had a choice – fishing or dairy farming," says Malcolm. "He chose dairying and a world of opportunity has opened up for him."
"He became a little disenchanted at one point, however through his connections and networks and strong relationship with a former employer, he was promoted and is now fully engaged in the dairy industry."
The judges noted Hayden's focus on recording and processes were clear, monitored and measured. "It's a living document, he's using the data and it's helping them," says judge Annalize du Plessis, from Dipton.
"He also has really good use of a whiteboard where he's engaging the staff, and helping them understand the why," says Gray. "So, you're not just feeding the cows, you're feeding them this amount because of this reason."
The judges also noted Hayden used calculations with his staff, helping them to understand area and pasture allocations.
Diego Raul Gomez Salinas from Taranaki placed third and won almost $8,000 in prizes and the Ravensdown Feed Management merit award.
Diego is Farm Manager for the Michael D Burr Trust 142ha property, milking 380 cows at Stratford.
The judges describe Diego as a passionate, likeable and gregarious individual who is quite humble and appreciative of the opportunity New Zealand has given him.
"He oozes passion and enthusiasm for what he is doing."
The judges noted Diego's strength in pasture management through regular pasture walks, constantly monitoring growth rates and paddock performance.
"He covered pasture cultivars and is trying to improve part of the farm that hadn't been regrassed for a long time through the maize rotation," says Gray.
The 2021 Dairy Trainee of the Year was awarded to Ruth Connolly from Waikato, who is described by the judges as a polished and engaging person.
The Dairy Trainee Judges say there was a whisker separating first, second and third places, and Ruth stood out in the practical and was outstanding in the interview section.
"Ruth is passionate about dairy farming and is constantly pushing for perfection," says Dairy Trainee head judge Tony Finch from DairyNZ.
Ruth won $9000 in prizes including a Honda XR 190 farm motorbike, along with the Federated Farmers Farming Knowledge merit award.
The judges described Ruth as articulate, considered and concise with a broad understanding of different industry issues.
"Ruth has a huge love and respect for the cows, the land and the people," says judge Nicky Allomes from Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa. "She will lead by example and will bring people into the industry."
Ruth's passion for the dairy industry as well as her work ethic and trustworthiness were noted by the judges.
"She has an insatiable thirst for knowledge which, coupled with specific and high-reaching goals, will stand her in good stead," says fellow judge James Courtman.
"Ruth is thankful and blessed to be a New Zealand dairy farmer."
Ruth is Farm Assistant on the Rukuhia Holdings Ltd 259.6ha property at Ohaupo, milking 800 cows.
The judges say all the Dairy Trainee finalists possess a strong appreciation for mental health awareness and a work-life balance and are seeking further knowledge through higher education.
The Dairy Trainee runner-up, Dayna Rowe from Bay of Plenty also won the DeLaval Communication & Engagement and Best Video Award presented by Streamliner merit awards together with $5,500 in prizes.
Dayna is 2IC on Mike and Viv Joyce's property, on their 110ha, 370-cow farm in Hawera.
The judges noted that Dayna's personality shone through and she is engaging and passionate.
Dayna demonstrated a high level of pride for the family farm which she works on. "There is a real level of connectiveness to the farm and its history," says James.
The judges were impressed by Dayna's interests around the environment, the farm and the challenges it brings.
"She is very representative of young people within the industry and will be an excellent leader within the dairy community.
Third placegetter is Mattes Groenendijk from Canterbury/North Otago. He is a farm assistant for Ngai Tahu Farming's 950-cow, 303ha Rangiora property and won the DairyNZ Practical Skills merit award.
"He's been able to use his very strong science base to help build a strong farming base," says Nicky.
"Mattes was detailed in his response and understanding of the environment," said Tony. "He is fortunate to be working on a farm that has taken some significant steps to researching the mitigation strategies."
The judges described him as a confident farmer with excellent general knowledge and an excellent foundation knowledge of environmental issues. He won $3,000 in prizes.
Visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information on the awards and winners.
2021 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year:
• Winner - Manoj Kumar & Sumit Kamboj, Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa
• Runner-Up- Reuben & Deb Connolly, Waikato
• Third - Andrea & Blair Muggeridge, Central Plateau
DairyNZ Human Resources Award - Andrea & Blair Muggeridge
Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award - John Wyatt
Federated Farmers Leadership Award - Manoj Kumar & Sumit Kamboj
Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award - Manoj Kumar & Sumit Kamboj
LIC Recording and Productivity Award - Reuben & Deb Connolly
Meridian Farm Environment Award - Andrea & Blair Muggeridge
Ecolab Interview Award - Katrina Pearson
Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award - John Wyatt
Westpac Business Performance Award - Manoj Kumar & Sumit Kamboj
2021 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year:
• Winner – Christopher Vila, Waikato
• Runner-up – Hayden Goodall, Bay of Plenty
• Third – Diego Raul Gomez Salinas, Taranaki
DairyNZ Employee Engagement Award - Hayden Goodall
DeLaval Livestock Management Award - Christopher Vila
Fonterra Dairy Management Award - Stephanie Walker
LIC Interview Award - Mark Rivers
Meridian Leadership Award - Rachel Lind
NZDIA Power Play Award - Hayden Goodall
Ravensdown Feed Management Award - Diego Raul Gomez Salinas
Westpac Personal Planning & Financial Management Award - Karl Wood
2021 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year:
• Winner – Ruth Connolly, Waikato
• Runner-up – Dayna Rowe, Bay Of Plenty
• Third – Mattes Groenendijk, Canterbury/North Otago
DairyNZ Practical Skills Award - Mattes Groenendijk
Federated Farmers Farming Knowledge Award - Ruth Connolly
DeLaval Communication & Engagement Award - Dayna Rowe
Best Video Award presented by Streamliner - Dayna Rowe
2021 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award - Pete Morgan and Ann Bouma, Waikato