25 March 2021
The 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners believe a good team with a can-do attitude is vital to the success of their business.
Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj were named the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards last night in Masterton. Other major winners were Leon McDonald, the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, and Tony Craig, the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year.
The brothers are 50/50 sharemilkers on Andrew and Monika Arbuthnott, Geoff Arends and Ester Romp’s 285ha, 460-cow Eketahuna property. They won $7,882 in prizes and four merit awards.
Both Manoj and Sumit have entered the Awards previously, with Sumit placing third in the 2018 Hawkes 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.”
Manoj holds a Bachelor in Agriculture, while Sumit has a Diploma in Business Management and Level 4 in Agriculture.
Future farming goals for Manoj and Sumit include continuing to grow their business and farm ownership in the next three years.
“Our good team is our strength as they create new ideas, improve efficiency and require less managerial interference,” they say.
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 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, Leon McDonald, won $6,032 in prizes plus two merit awards.
Leon has entered the Awards twice previously, was runner up in 2020 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager category and says the process gave him the chance to meet people in the industry outside of his usual circle.
“The most important benefit I have received is the boost to my confidence in not just my farming knowledge but also my ability to speak publicly.”
Leon is Assistant Manager/2IC on Barry and Carol McNeil’s 150ha, 450-cow Papatawa property.
“I love what I do. I love the animals, getting out on the farm and being surrounded by nature.”
“You can’t beat getting the cows in on a morning where the sun is rising behind the hill and the light is reflecting off the grass covered in dew.”
Leon wishes he could change public perception of the New Zealand dairy industry. “I feel dairy farmers and the industry in general has a negative reputation, often because of mainstream media reporting.”
“I would love for the general New Zealand public to see the good we do for the country, how we treat our animals and the positive steps we are taking to positively impact our environment.”
Leon sets high targets for himself to ensure he is always growing and developing into the best farmer he can be.
“During times where I’m out for long hours, there are days that I don’t see my children,” he says.
“However, being able to give them the amazing opportunity to grow up on a farm and witness their love for it keeps me going. I’m lucky to have an amazing wife who runs a tight ship.”
“My plan for the future is to ensure that I am in a position where I am happy and challenged and my family is settled and secure.”
Runner-up in the Dairy Manager category was Claire Douglas who won $2,432 and three merit awards.
Claire says the knowledge that she’s doing her part to produce a world-renowned product helps to drive her during the harder times.
“I’m helping to be a guardian for our land and waterways and enjoy seeing happy well-fed cows and a happy staff team.”
Claire is Farm Manager on Nick and Nicky Dawson’s 180ha, 420-cow Patoka property.
“I’m interested to see how the dairy industry will change practices to better suit the challenging times of finding staff while keeping the younger generation part of the bigger picture.”
The third placegetter in the Dairy Manager category says having clear systems and procedures in place leads to greater efficiency and profitability.
René ten Bolscher is farm manager for Clarence and Elise Stolte’s 170ha, 500-cow farm at Carterton. He won $1,552 in prizes and two merit awards.
The 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year is Tony Craig who is currently Assistant Manager on Shaun and Kirsty Rose’s 180ha, 400-cow farm at East Taratahi. He won $5,312 in prizes and two merit awards.
The second-time entrant saw the Awards as an opportunity to network and gain extra learning and knowledge.
“This is my second full-time season in the industry,” says Tony. “I love that dairy farming is a job that doesn’t feel like work. It’s a career that feels like a lifestyle.”
Tony sees himself as a farmer that will implement and encourage change in the industry. “I’m really excited about the massive potential that technology has to keep improving and transforming the way farms operate, making them more efficient.”
“I’d like to see wide-spread use of the technological advancements on-farm, an improved public perception of the dairy industry and young people being educated about the industry and opportunities.”
Tony acknowledges past challenges from lack of experience were overcome by changing his mindset. “I went out of my way to learn everything I wanted to know and just asked a lot of questions.”
“I’m very career-driven and am passionate about the dairy industry,” says Tony. “I love managing quality and efficiency on the farm.”
Carterton Herd Manager Jacob Stolte was second in the Dairy Trainee category, winning $1,607 in prizes. He works for Willem & Roelie Stolte and Clarence & Elise Stolte on their 190ha, 520-cow property.
Jacob would like to move into a managing position, then progress to a contract milking position in five years.
2IC Kevin Liengme was third. He works for Stuart & Sandra Cordell on their 165ha, 500-cow Dannevirke property.
Kevin began work in the dairy industry after completing his chemical and process engineering degree at university in the middle of a global pandemic.
“I see myself potentially using my engineering degree within the dairy industry on the production side by decarbonising how we process milk.”
Share Farmer Merit Awards:
· DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj
· Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj
· Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Adam Hands and Zoe Haylock
· Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award – Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj
· LIC Recording & Productivity Award – Adam Hands and Zoe Haylock
· Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Adam Hands and Zoe Haylock
· Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Adam Hands and Zoe Haylock
· Westpac Business Performance Award – Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
· Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa DIA Most Promising Entrant Award – Claire Douglas
· AMR Group Ltd Employee Engagement Award – Leon McDonald
· ADM.NZ Leadership Award – Damon Ashworth
· Vet Services Feed Management Award – Claire Douglas
· DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Claire Douglas
· Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Leon McDonald
· NZDIA Power Play Award – René ten Bolscher
· Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – René ten Bolscher
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
· Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa DIA Most Promising Entrant- Aliyah Wong
· TFM Tractors Farming Knowledge Award – Tony Craig
· T.H. Enterprises Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Award – Kiki Ritmeester
· Irrigation Services Communication and Engagement Award – Kevin Liengme
· DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Tony Craig