The Arable Awards of New Zealand 2023 were held at Christchurch Airforce Museum on Thursday night and drew an impressive audience of over 600 people to celebrate the success of the arable sector.
Blair and Jody Drysdale of Hopefield Hemp stood out at the Arable Awards of New Zealand 2023, securing the Innovation title for their bold approach to boosting productivity and income.
Federated Farmers Arable Chair, David Birkett, hailed the substantial turnout, underlining the sector's progressive attitude and the eagerness to recognize outstanding contributions.
The Drysdales, third-generation farmers from northern Southland, earned acclaim for their transformative shift from traditional arable and beef farming to hemp cultivation, processing, and marketing. Their journey from crafting hemp creams in a kitchen mixer to producing an array of hemp oils, balms, and health capsules showcased innovation and dedication.
Rob and Toni Auld, Arable Food Champion Award winners, embarked on a similar path nearly two decades ago, diversifying their Southland farm by producing a range of spirits from locally grown grains. Auld Farm Distillery, the previous year's Innovation winner, now ranks as New Zealand's third-largest whisky producer.
Hugh Richie, named Arable Farmer of the Year, demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity. Despite a setback from Cyclone Gabrielle, Richie, managing crops and stock finishing in Hawke's Bay, embraced change and actively supported industry advancements.
Grower of the Year awards went to David and Adrienne Wordsworth (Maize), Andy and Jo Innes (Small Seeds), and Sam and Hannah Grant (Grain). These growers shared a commitment to high yields, technology adoption, and industry collaboration.
Dr Richard Chynoweth, Researcher of the Year, revolutionized seed research with insights into ryegrass flowering mechanisms.
Andrew and Amy Darling, winners of the Environmental and Sustainability Award, were recognized for their soil health practices and precision fertilizer use.
James Abbiss, Emerging Talent Award recipient, displayed dedication by leading roles at the Foundation for Arable Research and organizing a UK study tour.
Additional awardees included Agronomist of the Year, Paul Johnston; Plant Breeder/Plant Researcher of the Year, The Barenbrug New Zealand Plant Breeding Team; and Arable Employer of the Year, PGG Wrightson Seeds.