Tom Cranswick Memorial Award 2019

The winners of this year's Tom Cranswick Memorial Award were announced at the Farmlands Annual General Meeting in November and once again, the calibre of entrants was exceptionally high. Each recipient is currently taking part in a course of study directly related to the primary sector and has been awarded a grant of $2,000 to help them through study, to see them contribute further to primary industries in the future.

Each recipient was asked: What is the biggest challenge facing the primary sector in New Zealand today? What would they do to overcome or meet that challenge?



Rachael Wood

Rachel Wood

With a desire to pursue a career in Farm Management Consultancy, Rachael is currently studying for a Bachelor in Agricultural Science at Lincoln University.

Rachael has recently spent time at Colorado State University in the United States, studying large-scale agricultural systems, gaining valuable insight as to how New Zealand agriculture is perceived by the rest of the world.

Hailing from Motueka, Rachael is a keen rugby player and was elected for the Tasman Mako Women's Sevens team which successfully competed at last year's national tournament in Tauranga, winning the bowl final.

Rachel's Answer:

The greatest challenge facing the primary sector is the communication breakdown between rural and urban New Zealand regarding environmental impact. An industry that is constantly being talked about in a negative way does little to encourage young people to enter the industry.

Creating an atmosphere that people respect and understand will go a long way to reducing the divide between New Zealand's primary industries and the urban population. The agricultural industry is known for holding advisory days that showcase how innovation is helping to overcome the adversity faced by their industry.

These events should be seen as opportunities to educate different demographics on how primary industries are responding to issues such as environmental impact.



Hannah Nichols

Hannahs NicolsLiving on a Northland farm for most of her life has given Hannah a tremendous introduction to her Diploma in Agriculture at Lincoln University.

Not stopping there, Hannah hopes to move on to Farm Management and then a Bachelor in Commerce; all underpinned by her ethos of working hard, being patient, developing resilience and learning by doing. Hannah's achievements are not all on the farm either.

She has been a student councillor, president of the Dargaville High School Teen Agricultural Club and captain of the Collegiate Hockey team. Once her studies are finished, Hannah has her mind set on becoming a Farmlands Technical Field Officer.

Hannah's Answer:

Sustainability and climate change are the major challenges we are facing today. With the rapid rate of change within the sector in terms of technology, farming practices, laws and regulations it is important that we are informed, educated and able to embrace those changes.

After completing my studies at Lincoln University, I would like to become a Technical Field Officer. The position would enable me to source the latest products and services and up-todate information for farmers to integrate into their farming practices.

We must still aim to improve productivity while we continue to evolve as the climate changes around us.



Jacob Babington

Jacob BabbingtonGrowing up on a North Waikato sheep and beef farm, there is very little Jacob has not done on the land in his 20-odd years. Cropping, pasture conservation, water system installation, fencing – It has all stood him in good stead for his Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours at Lincoln University.

When Jacob is not studying you will find him getting more practical experience to guide him into a role with Farmlands.

One day soon it might be Jacob providing you with advice on forage cropping, regrassing and pasture management, or maybe sharing his love of mountain-biking with you and the  routes he discovered on his travels.

Jacob's Answer:

The society we live in today has an ever-growing rural-urban divide. The only knowledge that the urban community has about farming is what is received through social media, the news and print media.

This potentially opens the possibility of anyone being able to publish anything they see fit, regardless of accuracy. The issue is that if one "bad" photo gets out or a negative opinion is shared, then this could be seen as fact with assumptions made about farming as a whole based on this.

To protect the future of the primary sector in New Zealand, the urban community needs to be properly educated by the farming community. This will allow farmers to show them the passion they have for their chosen way of life.

The 'urbanites' will then be able to understand that farmers respect their livestock, as healthy animals drive production. Farmers will also be able to explain and show the efforts they are making to reduce the impact on the environment.



Harriet Watson

HarrietPushing herself to be the best she can be is a way of life for this Agribusiness and Food Marketing student from Lincoln University. Harriet has been a lover of the great outdoors from an early age, riding horses, taking part in multi-sport events and now competing nationally as a sprint kayaker.

Her achievements are not limited to the outdoors either as Harriet  consistently earns high grades in her degree course and through her part-time work with ANZCO Foods.

She helped put together Being Bold For Change, a conference aimed at empowering and supporting women in agriculture.

Harriet's Answer:

New Zealand agriculture is facing some mighty challenges and these are likely to seem even bigger in the future.

Lab-grown meat is reality, soy and almond 'milks' are taking shelf  pace from traditional cows' milk and environmental and animal welfare concerns are shaping consumer demand.

These challenges have real potential to disrupt, challenging the way we farm. I want to be part of the solution and I'm looking forward to educating our domestic and offshore customers about the benefits of consuming ethically-raised, free-range, grass-fed red meat.

The numbers do not lie – we have got a great story to tell and it is going to require a mix of facts and emotion to make sure we can continue selling our premium food and fibre at the best possible prices.



William Robertson

William RobertsonMajoring in International Agribusiness at Massey University, William is furthering his academic and agricultural ambitions by taking part in a 5-month exchange programme with Shanghai University in China.

From his chosen course of study and indeed this exchange, William hopes to pursue a career integrating both business and the dairy industry. Diving head first into a new culture is not the only area where William has excelled.

He has completed the bronze and silver sections of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, with the gold on its way; taken on the role of the Massey Young Farmers' Publicity Officer and was the youngest winner in 60 years at the Young Farmers Stock Judging Competition.

William's Answer:

Environmental sustainability is a discussion not unique to New Zealand nor the primary sector. However, changing the negative perception of the industry by the general public is especially important.

Though arguably un-restorative, much of New Zealand's primary industries are world leaders in environmental measures such as CO 2 produced-peroutputand water use-per-output. However, this is seldom presented through general and social media.

I believe that this misinterpretation of New Zealand as an agricultural producer is holding the industry back. It is disheartening to those involved in the industry and often disincentivises further environmental action.

It also underutilises, what I believe to be, New Zealand's strongest selling point in international markets: the sustainability of NZ production. If we can shift New Zealand's perspective towards its primary systems as something to be proud of, I believe it will further incentivise sustainability while driving the profitability of the industry.