For young arable farmers wanting to learn more, try more and discuss more about crops, while enjoying some good company, Arable Ys is an initiative that provides them with an ideal forum.
Arable Ys is a Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) initiative established with one eye on helping the next generation of arable farmers become confident, capable operators, namely generation “Y”.
The group was established after FAR identified a gap in the industry’s knowledge chain that put it at risk of losing the impetus and momentum that younger farmers bring to any organisation.
By far the majority of growers attending FAR field days and seminars were over 35 years old, and in fact accounted for 90% of attendees.
Original organiser Richard Chynoweth of FAR said there was nothing available for younger farmers and staff.
“So we decided to form Arable Ys to meet monthly, with those meetings tailored to the needs and knowledge gaps of this younger and less experienced group of farmers.”
The group usually meets on the third Wednesday evening of the month in the Ashburton Hotel, while also including daytime sessions on farms to gain a first-hand impression of new developments, crops and techniques farmers are engaging with.
The evening topics may typically cover pest and weed control issues, aspects of nutrient and water management and spray strategies. On farm sessions will include a look at crop choices, rotations and systems.
But the most popular on farm seminar held in recent months discussed pathways to farm ownership and was attended by over 60 farmers. A workshop addressing farmer mental health, was also very well supported.
Arable Y farmers have also enjoyed the opportunity to travel further afield to visit other cropping operations and research centres.
In 2013 the group visited Cereals, the United Kingdom’s premier cropping field days. The trip also included visits to farms, agrichemical companies, machinery manufacturers and seed companies throughout greater Europe.
In 2015 young growers from the group travelled to the United States, exploring the massive cropping industry there.
This trip included the states of Oregon, Chicago, Kentucky and Tennessee, and included visits to tobacco growing operations, horses studs and a distillery. This trip as described as an eye opener for many of the Arable Y travellers, appreciating New Zealand’s climate, supporting infrastructure and diversity of cropping opportunities.
More recent study trips have included another visit to the United Kingdom and Europe this year, and a visit to South Australia last year.
Ruralco is a key supporting sponsor for Arable Ys, recognising the huge role arable cropping plays in the co-operative’s heartland of Canterbury.
The support means Ruralco enjoys a direct link to the country’s arable future, providing timely and useful feedback on where the arable industry is heading, and the key issues and concerns occupying the minds of its best operators.
A key link to the arable sector at Ruralco is Ruralco Seeds, an independent supplier of high quality seeds and expert advice on getting the most out of growing quality crops in Canterbury. Ruralco Seed is also a buyer and seller of grain, particularly wheat and barley to local and nationwide buyers.
Ruralco Seed Sales Manager Craig Rodgers says being involved with Arable Ys is a positive way to influence and support younger people in the industry.
“Really for us they are the future of farming and this industry.”
Ruralco Chief Executive Rob Sharkie says sponsoring the Arable Ys was an easy decision for Ruralco, given the significance of the sector throughout Ruralco’s catchment.
“These young growers are keen, motivated and highly committed to their industry – it is a pleasure to help nurture that and be part of their highly successful enterprises.”