South Island Agricultural Field Days
Farm Trader visits the South Island Agricultural Field Days held in Kirwee
The setup days may have been soggy, but despite ankle-deep mud and stuck vehicles, when the actual event rolled around, the sun eventually arrived to dry things out.
Not even rain could dampen the spirits of what must surely be the most positive crew of Field Days volunteers out there – from parking to information service and random requests, everything was carried out with a smile from beginning to end.
Organisers are chalking the 2017 South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD) at Kirwee as a success.
More than 30,000 people attended the event, which was an increase on the attendance at SIAFD 2015, the last time the event was held at Kirwee. This year's guests included Prime Minister Bill English and Selwyn MP Amy Adams.
SIAFD organising committee chair Rodney Hadfield says rain during the days leading up to the opening of the Field Days on March 29 meant it was not an easy task to get the agricultural machinery and other display items onto the site.
"We had to tow everything in with tractors, telehandlers and even a 4x4. I am very grateful to the members of the organising committee. They put in long hours in the weeks leading up to Field Days and then had to work extra hard to get everything finalised," Rodney says.
"We scraped mud from the laneways and rolled them before the opening. Visitors were better off in gumboots on the opening day but after that, it came right. And despite the weather, our numbers were up from the last time, so we are very pleased."
Rodney says PM Bill English spent several hours at the Field Days. He presented the awards for the best sites, attended the annual general meeting of Beef and Lamb NZ, and had a ride in a self-propelled forage harvester.
The best site awards for 2017 went to Alpine Buildings NZ Ltd, which had the best large site, and Sudeley Angus, which had the best small site. SIAFD media spokesperson Daniel Schat says other highlights of the Field Days were the comparative machinery demonstrations and the Agri-Innovation awards.
"Over the three days, hundreds of people watched harvesting and cultivation equipment run through their paces. The beet harvesting and maize chopping demonstrations were particularly popular," Daniel says.
"Agricultural technology is our primary focus. More than 60 new products were released at this year's Field Days, and we are the only major field days in New Zealand that holds active machinery demonstrations."
Farm Trader hosted its popular Top Tractor Shoot Out event on-site, pitting eight CVT tractors against each other in a variety of tests to find the best value for money CVT tractor in New Zealand.
"The SIAFD is an awesome event to be part of," editor Lisa Potter says. "Nothing is too much trouble for the organisers. The site is well-laid-out, there's a huge variety of sites and demonstrations, and it's all extremely relevant to the agricultural industry. We look forward to returning."
Claas Harvest Centre won the SIAFD's Philip van de Klundert Memorial Award for the best demonstration for 2017. Luke Wheeler from Claas Harvest Centre accepted the award from Rodney Hadfield, SIAFD demonstrations coordinator Earl Worsfold, and Philip van de Klundert's widow Tia Young.
The SIAFD Agri-Innovation Award recognises the best New Zealand-made invention or innovation that benefits farmers, and the winner receives a cash prize of $2500. Daniel says the entries in the 2017 SIAFD Agri-Innovation Award were varied and this made judging difficult. The entries ranged from software to machinery and tools.
The overall winner was the 'Power Discs' from Taege Engineering Ltd based in Sheffield. The Power Discs are hydraulic disc openers that can be fitted to Taege seed drills.
The Agri-Innovation Award judges also gave two merit awards.
They went to Levno for its Ensol sensors, which provide data to dairy farms about what is happening in their milk vats and around their farm, and to Hydrotorq for its mobile and static ozone generators, which eliminate bacteria in agricultural and horticultural operations.
Rodney and Daniel say the success of this year's Field Days will provide the SIAFD organising committee with the means to further develop its new site at Kirwee. Permanent laneways are at the top of the list of improvements it intends to make.
They thank the many volunteers who made the 2017 Field Days a success, and the Fulton Hogan traffic management team, who kept traffic flowing smoothly over the three days.