THERE aren’t too many settings less rural than Parliament House in Sydney.
But the state’s ag sector is going to do something about that on Monday.
The prize – handed out at the end of each year – is an opportunity to recognise the state’s rural champions.
And what a cracking shortlist it is in 2017.
- Who will come out on top? Shortlist for 2017 NSW Farmer of the Year
- Barramundi farmer Nick Arena wins 2016 NSW Farmer of the Year
This year’s finalists are Troy Blackman from Upper Orara in Coffs Harbour (who was ABC Rural’s 2016 young farmer of the year), Will Coulton from North Star in the Northern Tablelands, and Mike and Velia O’Hare from Beckom in Cootamundra.
The Land understands judging has been completed and the winner’s name sealed in an envelope.
Hosted by its Patron, Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, the event will take place at NSW Parliament House on Monday.
Meet the finalists
Mike and Veila O’Hare, “Greendale”, produce canola, wheat and lamb on a 2200ha rotational cropping and grazing system underpinned by nitrogen-fixing, hard-seeded pasture legumes which include barrel medic and gland, bladder and arrowleaf clovers.
The south west NSW farmers are passionate about the key role biserrula, a hard-seeded annual legume, is playing on his family’s mixed farm at Beckom, west of Temora.
Meanwhile Will Coulton, with the help of his family – wife Trudi, 15-month-old daughter Ava, and parents Ben and Pru – runs a 12,000 hectare mixed farming operation across properties at North Star and Boggabilla.
With irrigated and dryland cropping, Coulton Farming produces wheat, barley and chickpeas in winter and cotton and sorghum in summer. They also have 600 Angus cows.
Strip rotations are in place that are not dictated by price, which allows them to concentrate on yield and strategic chemicals to combat resistance.
Troy Blackman, 28, had long dreamed of owning such a business “a long way down the track” but in the space of just five years he has acquired three properties - “Waterfall”, “Two Rivers” and “Oakleigh” - at Upper Orara covering a total 243ha.
The mainstays of his organic business are a herd of 145 stud Charolais females and 1350 laying hens and both groups spend their lives eating grass on Mr Blackman’s paddocks.
First, the cattle in small mobs are rotated around the paddocks eating down the grass followed by the free-range laying hens which are housed in three portable chicken coops (caravans).
NSW Farmer of the Year is a joint initiative between NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW Farmers supported by SafeWorkNSW and The Land.
The 2017 winner will receive a $10,000 prize, while the remaining finalists will receive $2000.
Last year’s winner was Port Stephens Barramundi farmer Nick Arena.
Cowra mixed farmer Ed Fagan was the 2015 NSW Farmer of the Year.