Leeton farmers Peter and Erin Draper were named SunRice Growers of Year at the 2020 Rice Industry Awards on Wednesday evening.
The annual awards, run by research and development body Rice Extension, are now in their second year, their creation coinciding with the start of some of the toughest seasons experienced by the industry, a lack of water availability leading to the third and second smallest crops harvested on record.
Rice Extension Coordinator, Troy Mauger, said despite the unpredictable climate and water conditions the Drapers had demonstrated a commitment to excellence in all aspects of rice growing.
"The Awards provide an opportunity to recognise growers who are adopting farming best practices, achieving sustainability outcomes and improving business management," Mr Mauger said.
The Drapers grow rice as part of their enterprise which includes seed and milling oats, wheat, barley, cotton and trading sheep on an opportunistic basis.
Mr Draper delivered his first rice crop in 1975 and has grown the crop nearly every year since.
Mrs Draper has also been an active member of the industry, currently serving as secretary of the Ricegrowers Association Yanco branch.
She is also a member of the RGA Central Executive and was recently elected to its board.
Mr Draper said they were humbled by the recognition and had learnt a lot through the awards process.
"Accessing good advice and making the most of the technology and information available has been key to our success," Mr Draper said.
"As has taking a holistic approach to our business, profit is important but so is the environment and our communities."
Recently the Drapers have undertaken redevelopments to drastically reduce their number of rice bays and rollover banks, allowing for run lengths of over 1km, creating machinery efficiencies.
The three other finalists for Grower of the Year were Darrell Fiddler, operations manager for De Bortoli Wines, Bilbul, Lachlan Bull, Conargo and Scott Williams, Murrami.
Meanwhile, Brett and Louise Turner, Griffith were awarded the Port of Melbourne Highest Yield for C20 Award for the second year in the row.
The Turners managed to grow another bumper crop under tough circumstances, their 25 hectares of Reiziq yielding 15.56 tonnes per hectare.
This was a massive 134 per cent above the five-year industry average.
Other top crops included 58 hectares of short grain variety Opus, grown by Stuart Gannon and Nathan Hehir in the Eastern Murray Valley.
The crop yielded 11.61t/ha, 128pc above the five year average.