Using a science background to improve family farm

Bridie explains how her research and soil testing has led to reduction in nitrogen leakage on her farm. Photo: Maddison Brown.

The Dairy Industry Awards’ 2018 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year 28-year-old Bridie Virbickas took on a steep learning curve when she entered the dairying industry.

At the DIA winners’ field day on April 5 in Tauranga, Bridie recalls how she ambitiously took on her parent’s Bernard and Linda Virbickas’ 58ha Whakatane dairy farm mid-season “going from an office job to being in sole charge of a 235-strong herd”.

“Having to learn how to fix troughs, drive a tractor and mow paddocks.”

But it’s paid off – the runner-up from 2017 took out the award this year. And she got to share how she’s used her scientific background to “improve nitrogen leakage on the farm”.

Bridie says she knew she wanted to be involved in the agriculture industry. “So I went and studied agricultural science at Massey University in Palmerston North.”

Finishing her degree Bridie was offered a job at Ballance Agri-Nutrients where she worked for more than three years before travelling overseas.

She returned to Ballance, leading the North Island Farm Sustainability team for six months, when the opportunity arose to manage her parents’ farm.

Bridie will go contract milking with her neighbouring farm next year, taking on 500 cows and two staff. In the long term she’d like to go 50/50 sharemilking and eventually reach farm ownership.


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