Students from Coleg Sir Gâr’s agricultural campus at Gelli Aur have recently returned from an inspirational educational tour of New Zealand which included a three-week jam-packed itinerary of farm and grassland visits.

Arriving in Auckland, the group – which consisted of 49 students on agricultural, environmental and agricultural engineering courses – made their way through the North and South Islands visiting areas such as Hamilton, Taupo, Palmerston North and Wellington and the South Island areas of Picton, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Wanaka and Mount Linton.

New Zealand is known as a world-leader in agriculture and has become resilient and efficient without subsidies, although some of its farming methods are similar to those in Wales.

Students visited family and commercial farms including dairy, chickens, beef, sheep and goats and learned how investment-led corporate farming works as well as receiving a talk on LIC genetics.

They also took part in a lectures in beef consumption, pastoral systems and weed control with Dr Kerry Harrington and other lecturers at Massey University.

Katie Court, agricultural assessor at Coleg Sir Gâr, helped coordinate the visit which included a trip to Silver Fern Farms, the country’s largest livestock processing company for sheep, cattle and deer.

She said: “Good quality beef is especially established in New Zealand and it was interesting seeing from birth to plate, how this is managed, the eating quality they look for such as marbling and leanness percentage and how the whole process is achieved without compromise.

“We have amazing agriculture in Wales but one of the things that stood out to the students was how farmers talked about their 30,000 stock as if they were 30, there is a real focus on efficiency without compromising other areas.”

The group also visited three former students of the college who took part in the same trip in 2013 and 2016 which prompted their move to New Zealand where they’re now working as an agricultural contractor, a 2IC assistant manager and 50/50 share milker.

Two students from the current trip are also staying to take part in a three-month work placement.

Jan Mathias, Coleg Sir Gâr training adviser who coordinated the trip, said: “We wanted to open people’s eyes and make them aware of various farming methods and opportunities that exist in the industry and help to bring ideas back and implement them on home ground.

“It was amazing to see our students win as show judges at Canterbury A&P Show, it shows the calibre we have in our own students.

“We’d like to thanks our sponsors and everyone who gave us an incredible welcome in New Zealand.”

A piece of Wales has been left in New Zealand, supported by Builth Wells RFC who donated a signed rugby shirt which is now in place at Hauraki North Rugby Club.

Dani Harley, who is studying a foundation degree in agriculture, she said: "The trip was a great opportunity to see the different methods of farming between the two islands.

“Also a great mix from seeing tourist attractions to having farm tours giving us both a cultural and scenic experience.

“It's been a real eye opener for me and I'm sure all of the other students as well.

“One of the highlights of this trip was representing the college and Wales in the sheep judging competition at the New Zealand Agricultural show 2019 in Christchurch where Sioned came out on top and I came second.

“It has also given us all a great insight into a wonderful country and if one day some us go back we would sure know our favourite parts to visit again.”