For the first time the prestigious Lincoln University Foundation's South Island Farmer of the Year competition has been awarded to two entrants.
Chief judge Nicky Hyslop said the judges could not separate the two top performers, Richard and Annabelle Subtil of Omarama Station and Marlborough's Clearwater Mussels.
Clearwater Mussels is a greenshell mussel producer with 90 mussel farms supplying a variety of food and pharmaceutical markets.
Omarama Station is a sheep and beef property with some smaller scale hydro and tourism operations, and also has scientific reserves and conservation covenants on the property.
Ms Hyslop said both finalists showed leadership in innovation, technology, human resource management, marketing and entrepreneurship and, crucially, very strong relationships with their customers.
Clearwater and the Subtils will share the $20,000 business travel grant for research, education or marketing purposes.