Waylon Shadlock makes a 10-hour round trip every weekend to take part in the Agricultural Contracting course being run at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre near Masterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Enthusiasm is the key to training new agricultural contractors, says an industry leader, and in making a 10-hour round trip every weekend to take, Waylon Shadlock has proven he has plenty.
Wairoa-based Shadlock drives to Wairarapa each weekend to take part in the Agricultural Contracting course being run by Ucol and the Eastern Institute of Technology at the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.
“It’s a big commitment, but if I work hard, it will hopefully bring me a bigger dollar in the long run,” he said.
“I took on the opportunity to show the young fellas in Wairoa there’s a better life out there if you work hard.”
Shadlock stays on campus during the week and already has some experience in the agricultural sector, having worked as a fencer and shearer.
He wanted to add more skills to his repertoire.
“Once you get your licence and endorsements, you can make good money.
“Shout your name out to anyone looking for ag contractors and get on a tractor.
“The more hours you get, the better you get, and the more money you can earn.”
He hoped to stay in Wairarapa after he finished the course and land a tractor-driving job.
Andrew Tulloch, of Andrew Tulloch Contracting, which has supported the course, said this was the kind of enthusiasm needed.
“I think it’s a really great start that people are choosing to enrol.
“They’re not being forced to do so and seem really rapt to be there and want to be in the industry.”
People who showed that level of engagement were easy to teach, he said.
Knowledge about how machinery works was also an advantage.
“If the [students] pass the course, I think there’s a good chance they are employable and can move on to the proper tools.”
Of the first 12 students to take part in the six-week-long, fully funded ag contracting course, eight have gone on to find employment and four have returned home to look for positions.
The next cohort, another 12 students, have just begun.
Tulloch said they always took on people with less experience, and the ag contracting students were no different.
He was also pleased by the government’s decision to allow entry to 210 overseas agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operators, in addition to 30 veterinarians and 570 deep-sea fishing crew.
“We’re pretty hopeful we’ll get a couple of higher-level operators.”
While many of the overseas contractors appeared young, they had grown up in mechanical farming systems.
“In the same way quadbikes are an integral part of our farming system, tractors and machinery are integral in Europe and parts of the Midwest [in the US].
“They understand the agronomy of growing crops and what you want out of the silage product you’re making.”
He said this year’s season had started nicely, the warmer weather meaning drivers could get out earlier and with many parts of the country still recovering from the drought, it would also likely be a busy one.
“I think as long as the grass grows, there’s the potential for it to be a big supplementary season.”
The agricultural contracting course included two weeks for developing tractor and machinery skills, health and safety, two weeks of driver endorsement training, and a two-week work placement.
It was supported by local ag contracting and machinery firms.