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Newcomers win big dairy awards

Backpackers who first arrived in New Zealand with nothing but the clothes on their backs won Share Farmers of the Year at the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards this week.

Eketāhuna-based 50/50 sharemilkers, Alvaro Luzardo and Ximena Puig from Uruguay, credited their success to perseverance, education, and the guidance of good mentors.

Luzardo left Uruguay for New Zealand in 2013 and eventually arrived at a dairy farm in Canterbury.

“I spoke no English, so my boss used to draw on a whiteboard what I had to do,” he said.

“This was the beginning of my career in the New Zealand dairy industry.”

“I have loved farming since I was a child. I enjoy working outdoors with the animals and the challenge of managing resources.”

Luzardo has a Bachelor of Agricultural Engineering from Uruguay and has achieved Primary ITO Levels 4 and 5.

Puig joined him five years later and said she believed teamwork and communication were the strength of their success.

“We complement each other and keep each other motivated to do well,” she said.

Puig, who holds a Bachelor of Architecture, works from home as an architectural designer and “loves working with the cows and rearing calves”.

The first-time entrants won $7,750 in prizes and six merit awards and are 50/50 sharemilkers on Geoff Arends and Ester Romp’s 164ha, 480-cow farm in Eketāhuna.

The Dairy Manager of the Year, Rene ten Bolscher, won $6,450 in prizes and three merit awards.

“I’m proud of how far I have come in 11 years,” he said.

“I came to New Zealand not knowing any English or anything about farming, and now I am managing a dairy farm and own some land where we can enjoy our family life.”

A third-time entrant who placed third in the same category two years ago, ten Bolscher is now a farm manager on Clarence and Elise Stolte’s 170ha, 500-cow farm in Carterton.

Before moving to New Zealand in 2013 on a working holiday, he qualified in Holland as a plumber, electrician and engineer.

“Farming suited my visa, and I quickly discovered I loved the lifestyle, the variety of work and the challenge of always being able to improve and be more efficient,” he said.

“I’d like to see regulations become fairer – it feels like many are created by people who are not closely enough involved in dairy farming. It would be helpful if we could all work more closely together to make rules and regulations achievable for future generations.”

The Trainee of the Year was 2IC Kieran Scannell, who worked on Mike Burmeister’s 323ha, 1050-cow farm in Pahiatua.

Runner-up in the Share Farmer category with merit was Baljinder Singh, who does contract milking for Sandie Shivas, on a 200ha 550-cow farm in Carterton.

Second in the Dairy Trainee category, Greytown farm assistant Megan Gysbertsen, worked at Willow Dairies 950-cow property on 354ha.

The Share Farmer and Dairy Manager entrant scores were benchmarked against national averages – with data collated from the 10 other regions – because the minimum number of finalists were not reached.

Share Farmer Merit Awards:

DairyNZ – People and Culture Award – Ximena Puig & Alvaro Luzardo

Ecolab Total Farm Hygiene Award – Chaminda & Thilanka Wijesooriya

Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Baljinder Singh

Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award – Ximena Puig & Alvaro Luzardo

LIC – Animal Wellbeing, Recording and Productivity Award – Ximena Puig & Alvaro Luzardo

Meridian Environmental Sustainability Award – Ximena Puig & Alvaro Luzardo

Ravensdown Sustainable Pasture Award – Ximena Puig & Alvaro Luzardo

Lawson Avery Charted Accountants & Business Advisors Business Performance Award – Ximena Puig & Alvaro Luzardo

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:

DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Rene ten Bolscher

Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Rene ten Bolscher

CowManager Environmental Sustainability Award – Emily Cooper

Vet Services [Dannevirke] Pasture & Feed Management Award – Emily Cooper

TFM Tractors People & Leadership Award – Rene ten Bolscher

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