Nicky van der Linde (36), a seed farmer from Standerton in Mpumalanga, was named TLU SA’s Young Farmer of the Year.
Van der Linde has been farming since the age of 19 on the farm Cyrus of the Geelbos farm, which he bought from his father earlier. According to the judges, it was the way in which he put his own stamp on farming that made him stand out.
He believes competition is always a good thing.
“It is always good to be able to measure yourself against other farmers. It was a group of dynamic farmers who participated and you can see they are keen on agriculture,” says Van der Linde.
One of the judges, Lourens Steyn from the Hatfield motor group, says he was very impressed with Van der Linde’s excellence in the industry.
“His vision to develop the multidimensional Geelbos farming with the use of technology and international principles, while continuing to build on generations of experience and community involvement, was outstanding and earned him the title of overall winner,” says Steyn.
Wannie Scribante, deputy president of TLU SA, agreed.
“Although Nicky grew up on a large established farm, the way he manages the farm impressed me enormously.
“His project to invest in his own grain silos will be of great benefit to him and his fellow farmers. Taking on something like this requires a lot of courage, faith and careful planning,” says Scribante.
The other judges also noticed this fine planning and cleanliness.
“Everything on his farm is neat and orderly,” says Clemens Senekal, chairman of TLU SA’s Young Farmer Committee. “Not only the farm and his office, but even his shoes were polished every day.
“Nicky’s respect for everyone around him also struck me. It shows something of a man.”
Wynand Erasmus van Santam also referred to Van der Linde’s cleanliness.
“His appearance was incredibly neat, from corner to side, and then still shiny at the bottom too,” he says.
“It was a great privilege for me to be able to shake such a person’s hand, because this farmer has a great passion for life and for his work; you could see the joy of being a farmer on his face.”
Danie Muller from Introlab believes that Van der Linde’s heart is in the right place and that is what makes him so successful.
“Nicky is very passionate and doesn’t back down from anything,” he says.
“He has an awful lot of knowledge, is very ambitious and likes to take the lead. He makes a big difference in the community and will definitely achieve a lot more.”
Nets Turvey (37) from the Tuinplaas Boerevereniging in Limpopo was named the runner-up and Francois Prinsloo (36) from Stoffberg in Belfast was named in third place.
Bennie van Zyl, general manager of TLU SA, says they crisscrossed the country this year to visit the 15 semi-finalists for the Young Farmer of the Year competition.
“It was just as big a challenge to fit in all the visits as it was to designate the three finalists and eventual winner,” says Van Zyl.
“Each of these farmers made our hearts burst with pride with their positivity, innovation and farming ingenuity and we are confident for the future with these young farmers in our industry.”
Turvey says the competition has opened his eyes to things that may not always be the same in a farm. “It was an uplifting process for me. If you can’t learn from the criticism, then you can’t succeed either,” he says.
Prinsloo says it was a great honor for him to be named one of the finalists.
“If I don’t win, then I know there is someone who really farms better than me and I’m glad there are such men. I am also very grateful that the sponsors of the competition see that TLU SA’s farmers are good enough to invest in. It means we are in the right place and doing something right.”
The winners also walk away with great prizes: the Hatfield motor group sponsored a double-cabin 4×4 bakkie for use during the following year as a prize, Santam gave the winners R50 000 in total and Introlab gave each of the finalists one of its new products on the market as a prize.
Van der Linde and his wife, Adri, also won a trip for two to the Manitou factory in France.
“TLU SA would like to once again thank the sponsors of the Young Farmer Competition for their investment in the survival of agriculture,” says Van Zyl.