They may have been vying for the honour of top crop, but it was the Otago Rural Support Trust which was the true winner on the night.

The fourth annual Winter Feed Crop Challenge award and auction night raised more than $75,000 for the trust, as well as Poolburn and Omakau Schools on Friday night.

The challenge involved irrigated and dry land crops of fodder beet, kale, rape, turnips, swede and mixed feed judged by a panel of experts on yield, weight and use.

The Otago Rural Support Trust is part of a national network of 14 Rural Support Trusts assisting rural individuals and communities through events such as drought, legislation changes, farm succession, extreme weather and other adverse events.

Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Purvis said the funds raised would enable it to support those who were struggling.

Farmers and rural communities were under a lot of pressure at present which was compounding, Mr Purvis said.

More than 200 people attended the challenge awards and auction night at the Alexandra District Club.

Television presenter and mental health advocate Matt Chisholm entertained the crowd with tales of his antics before things got real and he shared his past battles with mental health.

Laughter gave way to a hush across the room as the reality of the importance of seeking help set in.

Attendees forked up big come auction time, partially due to the items on offer and partially because of the impulse to top bidding wars.

Poolburn farmer Mandy Evans had won the award for her crop of irrigated rape three years running and was surprised to win a fourth time.

“I came along to congratulate the new winner of it,” she said.

Ida Valley farmer Claire Mulholland said she loved the auctions and the evening was a great night out for everybody.

“It’s a bit of fun. I bring the staff out and we have a great time.”

Winter Feed Crop Challenge chairwoman Cam Nicolson said the support for the evening, and in turn, the Otago Rural Support Trust and wider farming community was “outstanding”.

“To see the glowing faces of people in the room, that’s valuable,” Mr Nicolson said.

“I think having Matt Chisholm and the topic that he spoke on, it resonates with the farming crowd,” he said.

It was important for people to reach out if they were struggling.

“The Rural Support Trust can be there to help, they’re only a phone call away. There is help and it’s OK to talk to people. Don’t be afraid to speak up and pick up the phone and talk to somebody.”