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Awards finalists demonstrate willingness to embrace challenges for the greater good

This year’s Zimmatic™ Trailblazer Sustainable Irrigation Awards finalists have been praised by the judges for their willingness to embrace the challenges of irrigation and commitment to finding solutions for the benefit of their farm business and their communities.

Three New Zealand farmers have been selected as finalists in this year’s competition, which aims to celebrate excellence in sustainable irrigation and encourage farmers to share ideas for achieving sustainable freshwater management.

This year’s finalists are: Simon and Lou White (Hawkes Bay); Angus Aitken (Canterbury); Richard and Annabelle Subtil (North Otago). The farms range from mixed arable cropping and beef finishing to sheep and fine wool production, highlighting the breadth of farming sectors that rely on irrigation.

Irrigation NZ chair and Irricon Resource Solutions principal, Keri Johnston, is head judge for the Awards. She says it was exciting to see such a high calibre of entries from all over New Zealand for this year’s competition. 

“These Awards are an opportunity for the irrigation sector to celebrate and showcase how irrigation done well can benefit the environment and our communities.

“It’s also about farmers building their businesses’ resilience through the adoption of technology, raising awareness amongst their peers and their community about what they’re doing and monitoring performance. 

“The three finalists stood out for their willingness to embrace the challenges that irrigation is often associated with. They demonstrated their commitment to working through the issues, seeking out opportunities to do things better, and highlighting the positive synergies of working with our natural resources for the benefit of all. They really are leading by example.

“While we could only choose three finalists, all our entrants should be commended for their commitment to responsible water management both on and off the farm.”

The competition is run by agricultural irrigation systems leader, Zimmatic by Lindsay, with support from New Zealand Awards partners Farmers Weekly, Irricon, Vantage NZ and IrrigationNZ. It recognises farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation, innovative water management and environmental stewardship.

Awards Coordinator Sarah Elliot says it is exciting to see the Awards gaining momentum, with nominations double last year’s.

“This result demonstrates that people see the Awards as an opportunity to recognise farmers’ efforts, thank those leading the way and use them to tell positive stories about their journeys.

“We’ve been thrilled with the quality and number of entries we’ve had this year as we stepped up the effort required to enter. We are excited to see the competition grow in the future. 

“This year’s finalists embody the very essence of the Awards. They understand that by being innovative and responsibly managing one of our most precious resources, their business thrives and so does the community. Our sincere congratulations to them all.”

Ted and Sue Rollinson from Canterbury were the New Zealand winners of the 2020 inaugural competition. This year’s competition is only open to New Zealand farmers, with the Awards being held in Australia in 2022.  

Each entrant is judged on the following categories: sustainable irrigation management; irrigation-driven improvements, which may include cost reductions, environmental outcomes, yield improvements and/or improved efficiencies; waterway protection; stewardship/community.

On-farm judging will take place in November before the supreme winner is announced later that month.

The categories are Supreme Award Winner, Sustainable Irrigation Management Award, Farmers Weekly NZ Community Award; and Future Trailblazer Award (awarded at judges’ discretion).

Together, Zimmatic and its Awards partners are offering a total prize package for 2021 of more than NZ$22,000.

For more information about the Awards visit

Richard and Annabelle Subtil ; Zimmatic;Trailblazer Irrigation Awards; ;Trailblazer Sustainable Irrigation Awards