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Scholarship recognises student’s passion for agriculture and grasp of industry issues

Penny Chapman’s passion for agriculture and her understanding of industry issues has been recognised through a scholarship from Perrin Ag.

The 22-year-old has received a $3,000 scholarship from the agribusiness consulting firm towards her final year studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours at Lincoln University.

Penny is originally from Methven and her family runs a cropping and dairy support operation near the Rakaia River in Canterbury.

Perrin Ag Director Trudy Laan says her team was impressed by Penny’s high academic standards, community involvement, and her proactive work encouraging young people into agricultural careers through her work with the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM).

“Penny demonstrates a real passion for agriculture and has a good handle on issues facing the industry and how farmers are feeling as they tackle the many challenges.

“She is excited to be taking a career path as a young rural professional ready to make a positive impact on our farming community.

“We felt Penny epitomised the high caliber of people we work hard to attract to our team, and we’re excited to see where her career takes her.”

The Perrin Ag scholarship will help Penny complete a study she hopes will encourage farmers to look at their entire farm system when reducing the environmental impact of their operations.

“My Honours study is to investigate the economic and environmental viability of two potential future dairy farm systems operating under either a low or moderate input system and compare them to a current high performing dairy farm, the Lincoln University Demonstration Farm,” she says.

“I hope my research will provide dairy farmers with information they need to make changes to their systems for the betterment of the environment and their financials.”

The farms involved in Penny’s study range from lower input systems with less nitrogen, lower stocking rates and no imported feed, through to moderate systems with more cows, more nitrogen and more imported feed being used.

“I’m hoping my research will increase knowledge within the dairy industry around the successful adoption and implementation of future dairy farming practices that help to mitigate negative environmental effects associated with milk production in New Zealand,” says Penny.

Penny believes the biggest issue facing farmers is maintaining profit and passion within their farm business, while facing ongoing environmental, Government and public pressure.

“Profitability is the bottom line of any business and for farmers this is becoming more difficult as they have to adjust farm systems to meet regional rules and regulations. But through innovation and education, I believe these challenges can be met,” says Penny.

Her family’s farm in the Upper Rakaia Valley is an example of how landowners can adapt to their environment and make changes to suit the land they are farming.

“We’re a bit unique in this area and the ability to farm successfully in this environment has helped develop my appreciation and enthusiasm for sustainable farming,” says Penny.

Penny’s family winters about 800 dairy cows on the farm every season, and grows peas, wheat and barley, some of which goes to the dairy farm as supplementary feed. They also produce linseed and have recently added a red clover crop that aims to be more regenerative on the soil.

“We are always driving to have the farm perform as well as it can, while also being mindful of policy changes and regulations we have to meet. My long-term goal is definitely helping farmers utilise their resource in a profitable, environmentally and ethically sustainable way,” says Penny.

Penny is the Lincoln University student representative on the NZIPIM and has spent time encouraging other students into careers in agriculture.

“Our industry needs skilled people who understand farm systems and how they can be improved, so there is real opportunity for career growth. I think the scholarships being offered by Perrin Ag are helping people to see that opportunity,” says Penny.

This is the sixth year Perrin Ag has offered the scholarship. It is awarded annually to promising individuals to continue their agriculture or horticulture studies at either Lincoln or Massey Universities.

Penny Chapman;Perrin Ag