Top Tractor Shootout 2015 preview - The judges

Video by: Stephen Dwight, Josh Robinson

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Who are the judges and what qualifies them to handle this massive task of determining 2015's Top Tractor? We divulge.

Testing and inspecting six tractors meticulously back-to-back is certainly no mean feat. So we thought who better to handle this task than the ones who operate them on a daily basis?

For the 2015 Top Tractor Shoot Out, we rounded up four of the finest farm machinery experts from Australia and New Zealand. Although their farming expertise varies from beef to dairy to cropping, one thing is for sure - they all have years upon years of tractor driving experience under their belts.

Meet the judges of the 2015 Top Tractor Shoot Out:

Jaiden Drought


Jaiden is arguably the biggest machine nut out of all the judges. More often than not, he can be found leaning against the latest piece of farm machinery, spinning one of his endless yarns to an unsuspecting victim. 

Born and bred in Taranaki New Zealand, Jaiden grew up on dairy farms his whole life and is now juggling his Farm Trader technical editor role with sharemilking, farm management and his hobby contracting business.

While admitting that the hardest thing about his role as a tester is writing up entertaining articles for readers every time, he is the first to admit that he genuinely loves his job as it involves driving some of the latest farm machinery on the market. Not to mention as well gasbagging to machinery dealers and farmers around the country. (He refers to this as ‘interviewing’).

He wishes to one day invent a three point linkage quick hitch with an adapter to hook the hydraulic hoses in so the operator does not have to get out of the tractor.


Brent Lilley


In addition to testing machinery and writing for Farm Trader magazine, Brent is a seasoned globetrotter, having visited more than 30 countries at the young age of 31. However it is not all for leisure as he has worked in several countries he travelled to, including planting wheat in Western Australia and baling hay in Canada.

Brent grew up on a family beef farm in Hahei New Zealand farming 800 cattle. At the moment he is juggling his writing role with his family farm responsibilities as well as his contracting business covering the Coromandel Peninsula offering hay baling and cultivation services.

Hence his answer to the question "What’s your ideal day off" is simply "What’s a day off?"

After finishing his Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University, he worked in the South Island on arable farms then worked with contractors in Waikato before travelling the world for eight years, doing work on several farms around the globe.

Having seen and driven a diverse range of machinery around the world, it is fair to say Brent is a walking encyclopaedia of farm machinery.


Tom Dickson


Tom, the token Australian judge, was born and raised on a sheep and grazing property at Carramut in western Victoria.

After accepting a position as overseer at Angus cattle property "Woorabinda", he went on to run the Mann family’s "Furneau", a 2024-hectare mixed grazing enterprise.

Later, Tom took over the management of the family property and it was during this period that he developed a strong interest in machinery. There is hardly a piece of farm machinery he hasn’t driven, having operated countless tractors, cultivators, seeders, rakes, balers and more.

While he has been impressed with tractors across various brands, he remains a huge John Deere fan ever since he purchased his trusty green and gold tractor a long time ago. 

After realising that he needed a change of pace and direction in his life, he leased out the family farm some years ago and joined New Farm Machinery magazine as technical writer and resident tractor guru.


Mark Fouhy


There is no doubt that farming runs in the blood of Farm Trader tester Mark Fouhy. From his childhood to his school years to adult life, everything – including his favourite subjects in school, have revolved around agriculture and farming.

Mark grew up on a 360-hectare sheep and beef breeding family farm in Wairarapa, north of New Zealand which is now run by his older brother. From a young age, he has been right amongst farm machinery; from farm bikes and tractors to equipment such as diggers and dozers.

Upon finishing high school, Mark was accepted as one of 10 cadets at Smedley station in the Hawkes Bay to learn all aspects of farming, including general work like fencing, training work dogs, and stock work on horseback. Over the 2 years at Smedley, he also completed the national certificate in Ag Level 4 (Sheep and Beef).

He then went on to Massey University to complete a Diploma in Agriculture before heading off to Ireland to do some intensive lambing work, contract fencing and tree planting.

Since moving back to New Zealand, he has worked in shepherding to stock managing and even did a brief stint in South Australia operating large pivot steer tractors, a variety of air seeders and GPS systems.

He is now contract milking 317 peak cows for S & P Atkinson, situated 10 minutes north of Matamata in the Waikato.

Don't miss our ongoing video coverage of the 2015 Top Tractor Shoot Out online, and watch out for the full feature in New Farm Machinery magazine issue 22, on-sale May 25.

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