Best Primary Sector Employers Announced



Woodville farmers Nicky and Ben Allomes are the inaugural supreme winners.

The Allomes, owners and directors of Hopelands Dairies Ltd, scooped the supreme Minister’s Awards.

They also won the Innovative Employment Practices Award.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has congratulated the best primary sector employers at an awards evening on Tuesday 27 November at Parliament.

“The first ever MPI AGMARDT Primary Industries Good Employer Awards have recognised exceptional employers across the dairy, seafood, forestry and horticulture sectors,” Damien O’Connor said.

“The primary industries employ about 350,000 people – one in seven working New Zealanders and as many as one in three in some regions,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Attracting and keeping this hard-working talent is a significant challenge and we recognise those exceptional employers who are committing to good employment practices such as training, paying and treating staff well.

“I equally acknowledge those working throughout the sector who contribute to these sustainable, high-value business models.

“Good employers help to attract and develop the skills we need for today and tomorrow. Investing in the workforce is critical to the future of our primary industries and a key part of this is providing attractive careers for the next generation of workers.

“I had the pleasure of presenting the Minister’s Award to Ben and Nicky Allomes, the owners and directors of Hopelands Dairies Ltd in Woodville.

“They have creatively solved the age-old problem of work-life balance by investing in a rostering system that allows their workers ownership of when they work and what they do on the ground. They have also shared this knowledge with their community.

The winners and highly commended runners up were:

Innovative Employment Practices Award: Presented by Tony Egan, AGMARDT.
Winner: Ben and Nicky Allomes, Hopelands Dairies Ltd. (Dairy)
Highly Commended: Jenny Buckley and Dave van den Beuken, Jaydee Partnership. (Dairy)

Employee Development Award: Presented by Ray Smith, MPI.
Winner: Kevin and Kylie Ihaka, Forest Protection Services. (Forestry)
Highly Commended: Patrick Malley, Onyx Capital Limited. (Horticulture)

Safe and Healthy Work Environment Award: Presented by Minister Nash.
Winner: Michelle Cherrington, Moana. (Seafood)
Highly Commended: Kevin Ihaka, Forestry Protection Services. (Forestry)

Māori Agribusiness Award: Presented by Minister Jones.
Winner: Miraka. (Dairy)
Highly Commended: Zac Te Ahuru, Ruapehu Agricultural Developments Ltd. (Forestry)

Minister’s Award: Presented by Minister O’Connor.
Winner: Ben and Nicky Allomes, Hopelands Dairies Ltd. (Dairy)
Highly Commended: Bruce Beaton, Kristen Nash and Maurice Windle, T&G Global, Pipfruit. (Horticulture)

100th graduate from primary sector leadership programme



Leadership and governance development of women involved in the primary sector was celebrated last week as the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) marked the 100th graduate from its Escalator programme.

The milestone was reached as graduates of the eighth annual programme gathered in Wellington on 22 November with primary industry leaders and more than 30 members of the Escalator Alumni.

AWDT founder Lindy Nelson said New Zealand’s primary sector were embracing and using this new talent as the programme’s graduates now led at all levels of the primary sector, from the farm to the boardrooms of some of the largest companies.

“We have seen significant change in the sector through our graduates involvement in leadership. In part, this comes from these women deeply knowing their purpose, understanding their motivation for involvement, and tying that the betterment of their communities and the sector.”

“Over the past eight years, about half of the Escalator Alumni have served in governance roles that they did not have before.”

“Others are heading up environmental and community projects, rural health and wellbeing initiatives, local government, Māori agribusinesses and commercial ventures producing high-value primary products.”

At the event last week, Labour List MP and Primary Sector Select Committee member Kiritapu Allan thanked the graduates for being leaders in their communities. “What you are doing on this programme is clearly pretty special. Our regions are the backbone of our economy and country and agribusiness has sustained our industries for generations.”

The 10-month Escalator programme provides leadership and governance development to 14 women each year. It takes a wide approach to development, providing women with skills and support, and addresses the real barriers women can face when engaging in decision-making.

Participants have come from across the primary industries including dairy, meat, horticulture, arable, wool, wine and honey. The programme is supported by AGMARDT, ANZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, FMG, Ravensdown, Red Meat Profit Partnership and CRS Software.

Nuffield Scholars 2019 Announced



Five prestigious Nuffield New Zealand Scholarships have been announced for 2019. The scholars were announced on Tuesday 6th November at parliament by Hon Damien O’Connor Minister of Agriculture and Minister for Biosecurity, Food Safety, and Rural Communities.

About Nuffield Farming Scholarships
Nuffield Farming Scholarships have been offered to innovative New Zealand farmers since 1950. They were first established in the UK by Lord Nuffield to create an opportunity for farmers to explore best agricultural practice around the world and facilitate innovation in the sector through travel and networking.

The programme has since grown both in New Zealand and internationally, building up a 150-strong network of scholars nationally, and more than 1,600 alumni internationally.

The 2019 Nuffield NZ Scholars are:
Ben Hancock

Ben was raised on his family’s Wairarapa hill country sheep and beef cattle farm. He is now based in Wellington working for Beef + Lamb New Zealand as a senior analyst, still near the farm and often back home to work.

After working in research and conservation roles in New Zealand, USA and Panama, Ben completed his Ph.D. investigating eco-system services. Ben worked for the Ministry for Primary Industries in biosecurity policy before joining Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

With New Zealand’s agriculture export focused, improving the diversity of markets can help to minimise volatility and maximise highest value outcomes. There are markets that have traditionally used sheep products that maybe under-utilised by New Zealand. Ben is interested in researching this during his scholarship.

Cam Henderson

Cam owns and operates a 750 cow dairy farm near Oxford, North Canterbury. With degrees in engineering and finance he has worked in a range of dairy industry roles including time with Fonterra and DairyNZ.

Alongside overseeing farming operations, Cameron currently commits much of his time to the Waimakariri Zone Committee in setting local environmental limits and to representing farmers as North Canterbury Federated Farmers Provincial President.

“All farmers will benefit from adopting the latest innovative practices on farm and encouraging others to do the same. The faster we can encourage farming to evolve, the less regulatory and public pressure we will have to endure”. Finding the factors that increase the speed of innovation adoption among farmers is a key interest for Cameron.

A trainee in music, golf, snowboarding, flying and Te Reo, Cameron enjoys learning and giving anything a go.

Corrigan Sowman

Corrigan lives in the small rural community of Golden Bay with his wife Ruth Guthrie and their two sons Wylie (7) and Tim (5). He is a partner and manager of the family’s dairy farming business alongside his parents and brother Sam. Corrigan is a graduate of Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science, was a former Consulting Officer with DairyNZ and Farm Consultant with FarmRight in Canterbury.

Alongside managing their 400ha dairy farming business, Corrigan has several off-farm roles. He is Chair and Independent Director of the South Island Dairy Development Centre (SIDDC) which operates the Lincoln University Dairy Farm. He is also Deputy Chair of the DairyNZ Dairy Environmental Leaders Forum, an initiative to foster and strengthen environmental stewardship and community leadership amongst New Zealand Dairy Farmers.

Farming practices that strengthen the integrity of the food produced is something Corrigan wants to better understand. “How can we give our farmers better market signals about the value they are creating in their production systems, especially inside a large cooperative?”

Hamish Marr

Hamish is a 41 year old, 5th generation, intensive arable farmer from Methven in the South Island. Hamish is married to Melanie and they have three daughters aged 8,5 and 3. Prior to a farming career Hamish graduated Lincoln University with B COM Ag in 2000 and then spent 4 years with Ravensdown Fertiliser as a field officer based in Ashburton. With his brother and parents, they farm 500ha of arable crops specialising in small seeds.

Outside of farming and family, Hamish is involved in several industry organisations. He is also active within Federated farmers and represents the Herbage seed growers section in Mid Canterbury and within that on the management committee for the Seed Quality Merchants Association, a board that oversees the seed certification scheme on behalf of MPI. Hamish is also involved with the Foundation for Arable Research on the Mid Canterbury Arable Research Group and the Research and Development Advisory Committee. Outside of work he has become a council member on the Ashburton Scottish society representing the Ashburton Pipe Band.

Farmers over the years have become dependent on a vast array of synthetic agrichemicals as a means of controlling weeds, pests and diseases and as a result, increasing yields across the board but this is being challenged and Hamish hopes to study the regulation that is being introduced in Europe and the implications for NZ.

Hamish Murray

Hamish, wife Jessica and three children Lucy (5) Margot (3) and Jonty (1) farm a high country property in Marlborough with Hamish’s parents. The property includes Merino sheep, Hereford and Angus cattle and a recent diversification into beekeeping and honey production.

Hamish has been managing the farm for 10 years after completing a degree in agriculture at Lincoln University, reading Economics at Cambridge University (UK) and work for the New Zealand Merino Company.

Hamish recognises that people are the most important element in successful business and that relationships are paramount in living a full and enjoyable life. He is hoping to gain understanding of how differences in environment, education and values shape agricultural consumers and employees.

Annabel Bulk is New Zealand’s Young Horticulturist of the Year 2018



Annabel Bulk from Felton Road Wines in Bannockburn, Central Otago has been declared New Zealand’s Young Horticulturist of the Year 2018 Winner.

Annabel is also the winner of the Young Viticulturist of the Year, representing NZ Wine.

Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust Chairperson, Elle Anderson, said the strength and diversity of New Zealand’s horticulture industry was apparent in the strong showing from all of the finalists this year.

“It doesn’t matter if you love landscaping, fruit and vegetable production, viticulture or working with flowers. It doesn’t matter if you want to be out helping customers in a nursery, out in the open maintaining a public park or inside a laboratory – horticulture has a place for you.

“Once again I am simply blown away by the calibre of tomorrow’s leaders we’ve seen on display during this competition. The future of our industry is in very good hands,” Anderson said.

This year the finalists competed for a prize pool of over $55,000.

1st Place
In taking home the ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’ title, Annabel Bulk receives a $7,500 Fruitfed Supplies travel and accommodation package to a horticultural destination of her choice, a $3,500 Riversun Nursery scholarship, $1,000 worth of ICL Specialty Fertiliser products, a $100 NZ Horticultural magazine subscription for one year and a selection of Aorangi Merchant pruning tools.

The AGMARDT Market Innovation Project Winner: Danni van der Heijden

Danni wins the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) Market Innovation Project prize for her satellite imagery project to improve crop estimation in the avocado industry.

This challenge is designed to stretch contestants’ abilities to innovate, develop sound business models and add value to the industry, and the winner comes away with a $5,000 cash prize.

For more information and other prize winners please go to:

Young Horticulturist of the Year 2018 – announced later this week!



The Young Horticulturist of the Year competition encourages young people in horticulture to further develop their skills and knowledge and to increase the opportunities for long term careers in the industry.


2018 Event
Key dates:

  • 7 November – Grand Final practical day at Pukekohe Indian Business Centre
  • 8 November – Awards Dinner at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland City
    Tickets available at eventbrite

2018 Finalists:

  • Gracce Stewart from Canterbury – representing Flonzi (Florist New Zealand Inc)
  • Morgan Hampton from Bluestone Gardeners and Nursery in Dunedin – representing New Zealand Recreation Association
  • Devin Westley from Southern Woods Nursery in Christchurch – representing New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated
  • Kae Combridge from Luijten Landscaping in Auckland – representing Landscape Industry Association
  • Danni van der Heijden from Avoco in Tauranga – representing Horticulture NZ
  • Annabel Bulk from Felton Road in Bannockburn – representing NZ Winegrowers
    For more information please go to:

Pasture Summit – Don’t miss out – Registration now open



Up to 1000 farmers, researchers, dairy sector influencers, innovators and critical thinkers are expected to attend New Zealand and Ireland’s first joint Pasture Summit in New Zealand in November.

Chairman Colin Armer says the summit is for people who are driven to create a prosperous future producing nutritious food from grassland farming while nurturing the environment. It consists of two conferences – one in Hamilton on 26-27 November and one in Ashburton on 29-30 November.

“We’ll have a dynamic group of international and local speakers, cutting-edge science and robust debate. We’ll be talking about innovation, new ways to reduce dairying’s environmental footprint and the natural health and wellness benefits of dairy products from pasture-fed cows,” Mr Armer says.

Olin Greenan, North Island dairy farmer and conference organising committee member, chose to get involved in the summit because it reinforces what he believes dairy farmers should be doing. “For any enthusiastic grass farmer, young or old, these events are not to be missed. Farmers can come along to hear why New Zealand is a world leader in producing pasture based food and ensure that this can continue for generations to come.”

The summit is designed to share the latest knowledge and thinking from leading experts, scientists and business people to help farmers secure profitable and sustainable businesses from pastoral farming. It is also designed to encourage attendees to ask the hard questions during discussion time so that as a sector, we are looking forward and focused on innovation and finding solutions.

The Pasture Summit is being organised and run by a group of progressive and committed farm business owners and dairy sector experts from across New Zealand and Ireland, and supported by industry-good body DairyNZ. Registrations and expressions of interest for the summit have been received so far from people in New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, the United States, South America and South Africa.

The conference will include talks by farmers and leading scientists with a strong focus on profit, pasture, genetics and sustainable business growth. Michael Murphy, an Irish dairy farming leader will address opportunities and challenges faced by pasture based dairy farming, today and tomorrow.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of system you prefer, our competitive advantage in the global food market is producing nutritious dairy products at relatively low cost, from grass fed cows. Future opportunities for on-farm profitability, sustainability and product value all have exciting outlooks from pasture-based systems and the roundup of speakers at the Pasture Summit from here and overseas look like they’ll open our eyes to those,” says Alistair Rayne, South Island dairy farmer and conference secretary.

North Island and South Island conferences mirror session titles and speakers; however, each will have a region-specific focus. The next Pasture Summit will be held in Ireland in two years’ time with the 2022 event returning to New Zealand.

Media contact
Anne Bird
Email: [email protected]
Phone 021 1086 591

Pasture Summit details
The theme of Pasture Summit 2018 is “Growing Dairy’s Future”. The two conferences are as follows:

North Island – Hamilton 26-27 November 2018.

  • Day 1: Claudelands Event Centre followed by Gala Dinner (sponsored by Ballance Agri-Nutrients) with keynote speaker Jake Millar
  • Day 2: Lye Farm, Waikato

South Island – Ashburton 29-30 November 2018.

  • Day 1: Ashburton Trust Event Centre followed by Gala Dinner (sponsored by Ravensdown) at Ashburton Hotel with keynote speaker Kevin Biggar
  • Day 2: Ashley Dene Research and Development Station, Lincoln University

Pasture Summit registrations
To register, go to
Registration options are available for farmers, rural professionals and media.

The Pasture Summit has wide support across the primary sector with the following sponsors.

Gold Sponsors:
AGMARDT, ANZ Bank New Zealand, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, DairyNZ, Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), Rabobank New Zealand, Ravensdown.

Silver Sponsors:
AgriNet, Dairy Holdings Ltd, Ecolab, Farmlands, FMG Advice & Insurance, GEA New Zealand, NZ Dairy Exporter, PGG Wrightson Seeds & Agricom, Silver Fern Farms, Waikato Milking Systems, Westland Milk Products.

Bronze Sponsors:
Allflex Livestock Intelligence, Farm To Farm Tours, Canterbury Grasslands Ltd, KPMG, Ray Mayne Hose & Fittings, Vetlife – Centre for Dairy Excellence.

Ag Innovations Bootcamp – Register now!



Do you have an idea for what could be the next great agricultural or ag-tech product or service? Looking for ways to reliably convert ideas and concepts into products or services that meet the needs of the market and your business?

Ag Innovations Bootcamp (5-6 December 2018, Hamilton, New Zealand) is a two-day workshop for:

  • Ag-sector visionaries;
  • Product managers and owners; and
  • Business leaders looking to “change up” their business

Hosted by NZ National Fieldays and Rezare Systems, Ag Innovations Bootcamp is packed with inspiring speakers, case studies from other product managers, hands-on learning and networking opportunities. You’ll learn techniques you can apply to build and validate business cases, understand user needs, and construct lightweight prototypes.

The Ag Innovators Bootcamp is being held at Mystery Creek, home of the NZ Agricultural Fieldays, 125 Mystery Creek Road, Ohaupo, Hamilton.

Register now!

NZ Fieldays
Amazon Web Services
Callaghan Innovation

Registration now open for 2019 Sprout Accelerator



From now until November, Sprout is searching the globe for agritech and agrifood entrepreneurs with disruptive products and technology. We’re looking for companies who want to accelerate their business and maximise their growth.

Sprout is your Accelerator
The Sprout Accelerator is tailor-made for each company selected and focuses on three core areas that enable scalable growth:

  • High margin business model
  • Distribution, and
  • Execution advice from experienced entrepreneurs

Eight to 12 start-ups will be selected to take part in the eight month accelerator, which starts in January 2019 with weekly consultation from our Sprout advisors. They’ll help you to prioritise weekly tasks to create maximum value, while conserving cash and managing execution risk.

You’ll then complete four underground events across as many months, before attending the culminating event, the Sprout Partners Summit. This is where eight months will pay off as you present your company and team to the Sprout network, agritech leaders and investors, and secure your future with channel partnerships and distribution or investment opportunities.

Sprout Benefits

  • FUNDING – access to smart capital for growth
  • ACCESS to deep market insights and knowledge
  • CONNECTIONS made to distribution partners, customers and investors
  • MILESTONE identification for fast business growth
  • EXPERT advice from our team, mentors and industry partners
  • ACCURATE business planning based on our insights
  • REMOTE working environment, allowing you to grow your business from home

Sprout Team
The Sprout team has an entrepreneurial skillset like no other agritech accelerator team. They are anchored by a culture of ‘going to the trenches’ with early stage companies. Everyone on the team has real company startup & growth experience and is focused on putting founders first.

The team includes experienced entrepreneurs, business owners and investors with interests in all areas of agritech, from irrigation research to food production and supply chain.

Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme 2019 Applications – Now Open


Do you want to be a recognised leader in the agribusiness sector? Get the skills to achieve your full potential by completing a Kellogg Rural Leadership programme. Application now open.

The Kellogg Rural Leadership programme is a well established and respected developer of leaders for the primary industries.

Kellogg differentiates itself from other leadership programmes by developing the “contextual intelligence” and thinking required for leadership in the primary industries. This is done through experiential learning with case studies, field trips, discussions & debates with industry leaders and presenters.

Participants develop and refine your leadership potential in a supportive environment with leadership experts and senior industry leaders.

The programme aims to provide:

  • A toolkit of personal leaderships skills and competencies.
  • Confidence to apply skills to leadership, management and governance roles.
  • A supportive environment and colleagues to test and apply new knowledge and skills.
  • A greater understanding and appreciation of the New Zealand primary sectors, their strategies, management and leadership challenges & opportunities.
  • New networks of industry leaders and strategic influencers in the primary sector.
  • Knowledge in advocacy, influence and political process.
  • Membership of a strong and proud alumni.

There are two intakes of 24 participants each year, selected to represent diversity across industry sectors, level of experience, geographical location, gender and ethnicity.

Head over to to find out more information.

Applications close 15 October 2018

AGMARDT Leadership Scholarship 2018/19 Intake Open



Five new AGMARDT scholarships are available for leadership and governance training within the agribusiness sector.

AGMARDT are offering up to five Scholarships to the value of up to $15,000 (Incl. GST) for each scholarship awarded to assist applicant to attend courses or a personal development programme or an overseas business school.

AGMARDT supports initiatives that develop future leaders and improve the leadership and governance skills of individuals involved in agribusiness. There is limited depth of leadership and governance skills within the agribusiness sector, and there are those who are missing development opportunities on a regional basis, which has the potential to limit New Zealand’s ability to take advantage of beneficial market opportunities.

The Leadership Scholarship provides an opportunity for individual applicants to:

  • achieve their potential through a personalised development plan
  • develop and advance their management, leadership and governance skills
  • participate in management, leadership and governance programmes that make a positive difference to agribusiness and are aligned with AGMARDT’s strategic interests

The Leadership Scholarship is available for individuals wishing to advance their leadership or governance skills necessary to take on future leadership roles within agribusiness and beyond.

We believe that the success of agribusiness will be driven by talented and inspired leadership.

Applications close 5pm on 28 September 2018

Download Leadership Scholarship Guidelines
Applications received via the online portal ( will be considered by the AGMARDT Board of Trustees and advisors where appropriate.