Hugh Richie was crowned the Arable Farmer of the Year at the 2023 New Zealand Arable Awards held in Christchurch last week.
The Supreme Award recognises an Arable farmer who excels in all aspects of the arable industry. The judges looked for a sustainable farm business, which balances production and profitability requirements against environmental and community outcomes, as well as evidence of long-term commitment to the industry.
Richie told REX's Hamish McKay that although their house, silo and workshop were pretty much the only parts of their property that made it through Cyclone Gabrielle.
"All the vegetable crops disappeared, we lost 12 kilometres of fencing, basically six inches of topsoil over a vast part of the farm and we had to put a lot of soil back into the holes that were created where the Waiapara river effectively joined us for three days," he said.
In winning this award, Richie's deep understanding of what the future of farming looks like and how Kiwi farmers can get there is something that was highlighted by the judging panel.
Richie attributed this forward-thinking attitude to his father who was one of the first to use Lime in combination with fertiliser to increase crop yields.
"I've always been open to new technology.
"Being on the farm board, I've always been trying to drive, how do we innovate and how do we give farmers the leg up to enable them to make the next step?"
He is particularly proud of the cultivate venture that managed to get through the farm board which he hopes will be able to fund and investigate new ideas to have a positive, long-term impact on farming.
"It might not be that some of those ventures are on farm for me but the value they create for me will enable me to do other things and diversify that income.
"We just have to keep on looking at how we take new crops and take new ideas and new opportunities."
Richie is honoured to win the award, although he noted that he wasn't sure who exactly nominated him for it.
Listen to the full chat between 2023 New Zealand Arable Farmer of the Year winner Hugh Richie and Hamish McKay above.