A record number of farmers will compete in next year's Dairy Industry Awards, about three-quarters of which are first-time competitors.
Entries closed earlier this week, with 525 contenders.
That's about 30 more than last year and 20 more than the previous record in 2010. Waikato had the most entries at 73.
Organiser Chris Keeping says she expects the increase in entries is due to good spring-time weather and high dairy export returns.
Competitors enter one of three categories: dairy trainee of year, sharemilker/equity farmer of the year and farm manager of the year.
Judging begins in January and regional winners will compete in the national finals in Auckland in May.
It's the sixth year for the dairy industry awards, which previously ran as Sharemilker of the Year for the previous 20 years.