Events

Event: South Island Agricultural Field Days 2019

Records were smashed at the 2019 South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD), with the biennial Kirwee event pulling in more crowds, more number of exhibitors, and more machinery demonstrations than ever before

Spread over 20 hectares, the impressively organised field days gave machinery brands from around the country an opportunity to perform working demonstrations in the 10-hectare specialist demonstration area. This created a rare occasion to see everything, from harvesting and cultivation equipment to hay and silage gear, tractors, and telehandlers in action.

Machinery demonstrations organiser Andrew Stewart says the demonstration area included four hectares of grass, one hectare of fodder beet, one hectare of maize for harvesting, and three hectares of grain stubble for cultivation.

“We had five balers on display this time and only two at the last field days,” says Andrew. “We also had four or five machines that were new to New Zealand. They included the Weaving disc drill from the UK, a drone that does spot spraying with a five-litre tank, and a fire suppressant system for combine harvesters.”

Andrew says not only were there more machines but there were also a number of larger machines at work during the demonstrations. They included several cultivators that were more than 10 metres wide.

Norwood won the award for the best cultivation gear demonstration and Claas Harvest Centre won the best harvest gear demonstration, with Claas also taking out the overall best machinery demonstration award. SIAFD media spokesperson Daniel Schat says despite a less than ideal lead up, with the tragic events in Christchurch on 15 March and flooding that prevented some West Coasters from attending, car parks at the field days were near capacity and attendance was strong.

A moment of silence was held at noon on the opening day to honour the memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks at the Christchurch mosques.

“We had 640 exhibitors this year compared to less than 600 at our last event in 2017,” Daniel says. “Feedback has been very positive. The introduction of the Diesel Tune NZ Tractor pull was another a positive addition with crowds of people gathered there throughout the field days.”

A number of politicians dropped in on SIAFD 2019, including Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, local Selwyn MP Amy Adams, and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.
Amy Adams presented the Agri-Innovation Award to Ravensdown for its Clear Tech effluent treatment system, and Eugenie Sage announced $380,000 in government funding to support recycling waste plastic from farms.

SIAFD secretary and event coordinator Tineka Johnstone says the quality of the displays at the 2019 event was very high.

“PGG Wrightson won the award for the best large site. They had pre-grown crops to demonstrate their products and all of the different sections of their site were nicely demarcated,” Tineka says. “Maxxis Tyres won the best small site because of their dynamic display of four-wheel drive tyres and their welcoming, friendly attitude.”

Tractorpull NZ Inc general manager Vaughan Coy says although he would have like to see more farmers and contractors putting their tractors on the line, re-introducing the Tractor Pull to SIAFD was a successful step.

“It was a lot of fun and we had good crowds parked up on the bales watching the action for considerable periods,” Vaughn says. “And whenever the super-modified tractor started up, people would flock in.”

Winner of the Tractor Pull’s standard class was Baylee Horn in a Massey Ferguson 8240, second was his father, Andrew Horn in a Massey Ferguson 3645, and third was Tim Rowe in a Fendt 716. Winner of the modified class was Gavin Millar in Who Deeres.

SIAFD is organised entirely by a team of 27 volunteers, this year captained by organising chairman Rodney Hadfield. With the 2019 event now in the rear-view mirror, they will take a break and then start getting ready for the next event, which takes place from 24 to 26 March 2021.  

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