Persistence pays off for competition winner

IT was a case of third time lucky for agronomist Andrea O’Halloran who won the 2021 Young Farmer of the Year competition.

This was Mrs O’Halloran’s third attempt at winning the competition against finalists from across the state.

On the day competitors had to participate in 10 modules during the first part of the competition.

The top six finalists then completed extra two competition sections, which were a general knowledge quiz and public speaking to determine the final places.

This year competitors had to do units on everything from first aid and farm safety to calibrating a spray rig and poaching an egg.

“It’s so hard because you have no idea what the modules are going to be, so you can’t really do any preparation,” Mrs O’Halloran said.
“The competition was really strong this year, there were so many capable competitors and they did such as great job.”

Second place this year went to farmer Caitlin Radford.

As well as the competition side of things, Mrs O’Halloran said there were a number of other benefits to taking part.

“It’s a really good opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new friends and there’s nothing else really nothing like it,” Mrs O’Halloran said.
“The whole competition this year was really well run.”

The competition prize pool this year was worth about $40,000 and included a new side-by-side vehicle, which Mrs O’Halloran won.

Mrs O’Halloran comes from an agricultural background and grew up on her family’s mixed farming operation on the North-West Coast.

After finishing her bachelor of agricultural science at the University of Tasmania in 2013, Mrs O’Halloran went to Western Australia and worked in the northern beef industry for three years.

After returning home, she started work at the Dornauf family’s Hillwood Berry operation five years ago.

“I love being an agronomist for a farmer,” she said.
“I love being on the farmer’s team and working with them being hands on in the farm.
“This is the best of both worlds, because I get to us all my scientific knowledge that I learnt at uni, but I’m still essentially farming.”

Mrs O’Halloran said working with covered cropping systems created unique challenges.

“I think there’s just so little experience in Tasmania because it’s not a traditional industry and it’s only been around for 10 years,” she said.
“So having hydroponic knowledge or having protected cropping knowledge is very much non-existent in graduates, because this wasn’t even taught when I was at uni.
“When I finished which was only eight years ago, berries weren’t even on the radar.”

Mrs O’Halloran lives with her husband, Ren, on a small rural property in the Tamar Valley.

She has been involved with competition organiser Rural Youth since she was 18 but stepped down from being a member when her daughter was born two years ago.

On farm at Hillwood Mrs O’Halloran said they were preparing for the upcoming season with planting and pruning and were also involved in a major expansion of the farm’s strawberry production area.

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