Manawatu District Council Mayor, Helen Worboys says the district is very proud to host the Central Districts Field Days because the region sees itself as the agritech hub of NZ.
The event, from Wednesday to Friday March 29-31, will be held for the second time on the new site near Kirwee.
Organising committee chairman Rodney Hadfield says the volunteers who plan and run the event are proud of its status as New Zealand’s premier demonstration field days and this year will be no different.
“While the SIAFD hs grown, evolved and moved with the time, we have stayed true to the aims we began with, in 1951 – to promote ingenuity and innovation and to provide farmers with an opportunity to watch comparative demonstrations so they can make informed choices before purchasing machinery and equipment,” he says.
New for 2017 is a lifestyle section with exhibits the whole family can enjoy, and because it is election year you can expect politicians to be on hand.
Prime Minister Bill English is scheduled to visit on the second day of the event.
Media spokesman Daniel Schat says the volunteers and community groups who run the field days are well-prepared and the scene is set for a great show.
“Machinery demonstrations are a big part of South Island Field Days and we are just 20 minutes from Christchurch airport,” he says.
“We offer farmers and contractors throughout NZ an inexpensive way to check out and compare the latest gear.
This year we have good crops of maize, fodder beet, pasture and oats ready for the harvest machinery. Cultivation and seeding machinery will also be in action.”
Schat says field days are a time when machinery manufacturers and distributors release new products and there are always some great deals to be had.
“So it should be of real interest to anyone who is serious about agricultural machinery.”
Organising committee member Tony Redmond leases the SIAFD site when the field days are not on, and Schat says Redmond has done an excellent job making sure the crops are ready and well-watered. Irrigation is applied with a pivot irrigator Think Water Leeson has donated to the cause.
“The lifestyle section adds something new to the field days,” Schat adds. “We have 50 exhibitors lined up to display products ranging from model trains and spa pools to dog control systems and solar water and power units.”
Other special events at SIAFD include the Top Tractor Shootout 2017. The Shootout will compare variable transmission tractors made by the world’s leading brands. Judges will test the tractors on a range of criteria including performance and affordability.
Two fencing competitions will also be held, and another popular event is the Agri-Innovation awards. These recognise NZ-made innovations or inventions. Implements, attachments or tools used in agriculture or other types of primary production are eligible and entrants are given a chance to demonstrate their inventions.
SIAFD is a non-profit organisation made up of farmers and others in the agricultural industry.
Hadfield says the event would not be possible without the work of volunteers and community groups and Friends of the Field Days who donate equipment and services.
He says the event is a good community fundraising opportunity for local schools and Young Farmers who help with parking, running the tills, the entrance and cleanup.
Last time at least 27,500 people attended SIAFD 2015 and organisers anticipate this number or more in 2017.