Young Farming Champions Backing a Future for Agriculture in the fragile Far West of NSW

 

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Young Farming Champion and Climate Wise Agriculture founder Anika Molesworth

The arid zone of western New South Wales is hot and dry and expected to become hotter and drier with a changing climate. Forward planning and community collaboration is key to ensuring the future of farming in the fragile Far West. But what tools are needed?

This question will be addressed at “Outback to the Future” an upcoming free public seminar to be held at the Fowlers Gap Research Station near Broken Hill on Saturday May 12. Organised jointly by the University of New South Wales and Climate Wise Agriculture, the seminar will discuss the future of land management including new technology available now, future technology, how productivity and resilience can be increased, and how the latest research findings can be applied on the ground.

“Land managers of the Far West are no strangers to adversity – it’s a strikingly beautiful place to live out here, but it comes with its challenges,” Anika Molesworth from Climate Wise Agriculture said. “This seminar is about looking to the future, asking the hard questions, and working together to come up with solutions.”

Commencing at 10.00am the line-up of speakers includes: social researcher Emily Berry; animal ecologist Simon Griffith; wool and sheep specialist Gregory Sawyer; soil scientist Susan Orgill; livestock behaviourist Danila Marini; Judge at the NSW Land and Environment Court Simon Molesworth; climate researcher and veterinarian Greg Curran; General Manager of Research, Development and Innovation from MLA Sean Starling; local grazier Angus Whyte; artist Peter Sharp; and members of the local Landcare Youth Network.

“It’s a hugely exciting day – we’re going to be talking drones to move livestock, replenishing soil carbon to access green markets, industry innovations, art movements, and hear the visions from young locals,” Anika said.

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Livestock behaviourist and Young Farming Champion Dr Danila Marini

One particular presentation that is bringing futuristic-tech to the outback is that by Danila Marini. “Virtual fencing is exciting technology, giving farmers the ability to set up a fence line from their computer’” Danila said. “Close to commercialisation for cattle, virtual fencing uses GPS and a smart algorithm to contain animals within a boundary through the use of an audio cue. This technology has great potential for the sheep industry, especially for vast properties where fencing is either impractical or too costly.”

For further details on the seminar visit the website at https://outbacktothefuture.weebly.com/

#youthvoices18

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Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth honoured on Earth Day

Young Farmer Champion Anika Molesworth has been honoured by Instagram in their Earth Day celebrations as one of  “Instagram’s Most Inspiring Environmentalists”

Observed every year on April 22, Earth Day is a day to celebrate the planet and educate people about the need for environmental protection.

In honor of this eco-friendly holiday, Instagram highlighted individuals who are doing incredible and inspirational things for the Earth every day of the year. From photographers to scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, farmers, writers, small business owners, filmmakers, and chefs, here are just a few of the changemakers in the Passion Passport community who are using their platforms to fight for sustainability.

This is Anika’s profile

ANIKA MOLESWORTH (@ANIKAMOLESWORTH)

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What she does:

Anika is a researcher in international agricultural development who splits her time between her family’s arid outback sheep farm in western New South Wales, crop trials in the Riverina (where she’s completing her Ph.D.), and international fieldwork at the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute. No two of her days are ever the same — one morning she could be flying a drone with a multi-spectral camera over a cotton crop to gauge plant health and the next, she could be wearing a white coat and running laboratory experiments. But regardless of whether she’s wading through muddy fields to collect soil samples or giving TEDx talks, Anika is fighting for sustainable farming, environmental conservation, and climate change action.

What sustainability means to her:

“Sustainability means conserving and enhancing our precious natural resources so that future generations can enjoy a rich and wondrous world just as much as we have. That means looking after the wildlife, vegetation, soils, and water (the building blocks of a healthy environment). But in order to do this, we must realize the fragility of the natural world and our impact upon it. When we care for the land, it supports us.”

As you will see Anika’s joins some of the world’s greatest environmental legends

Read their stories here .

Anika is also a member of our Youth Voices Leadership Team Read about the team here 

#YouthVoices18

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Youth Voices Matter

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Young people are in a unique position as they face the reality of an uncertain future but potentially they are bestplaced to push for and define the long-term societal response to the planet they envision. They are also the most vulnerable to the legacy of decisions made by older generations. Although young adults arguably have the most to gain and the most to lose their voices are not prominent, and too often engagement with this crucial demographic is in many ways limited. The Archibull Prize seeks to enable and empower students to make decisions and take actions that contribute to creating a sustainable future. To assist the students on their journey we pair them with young professionals (Young Farming Champions) from the agriculture sector.

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Young Farming Champion and keynote speaker Anika Molesworth  explains why Youth Voices Matter is this excellent post  “Restless Development”  from her Climate Wise Agriculture blog

Around half the world is under 30 and nine in ten of these young people live in developing countries.

Some are calling it Peak Youth – never before have there been so many young people in this world.

Due to this, their voices are going to be heard, and their actions are going to be felt. Their presence in global to local issues will be known. Why do I think this? Because the young generation are now more educated, tech-savvy and connected than ever before. And they care about their future.

This is why youth coalitions are growing and hashtags like #YouthVoices18 matter.
Young people restless for change are striving for fair, just and ecologically-sustainable development.

The youth today are going to face challenges like never felt before in history.
Climate change, forced migration and ecological degradation to name a few.
When natural environments cease to function as they should, and communities fracture and disperse, young people are caught in the wave of consequences from past actions and inactions.

But the youth also play an important role in overcoming these challenges.

Youth voices are particularly powerful.
Their smart-phone megaphones and global cyber-networks mean ideas and information are shared instantaneously. They see the injustices, they hear of the biological-plundering, and they are motivated to speak up, knuckle down and swipe-left on the status-quo.
For instance, young people in many parts of the world are calling on their governments to do more to prevent harmful climate change impacts. They say the failure to protect their future by slow or inadequate action violates the rights of young people to life, liberty and property enjoyed by previous generations. The idleness to set in place policies and structures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions exacerbates the risk and intensity of droughts, bushfires and floods – severely impacting those setting out on a career in agriculture.

Young people pursuing farming have no small task on their hands. Striving for high quality produce and global food security whilst reducing our environmental footprint is one of the most significant challenges of our time. Many experts predict that by 2050, population demands from nearly 10 billion people will require a 60% increase in global food production or a significant change to the global distribution, storage, consumption and access to food. Education and empowerment of young people in agriculture is critical.

When planning a brighter future, we need to be guided by young people, drawing upon their energy, creativity and skills for positive change. There are so many exciting young people working in genetics, soil science, irrigation engineering, carbon capture research, etc. – powering ahead in research, technology development and sharing their stories. Our leaders must not only acknowledge their interest, but seek the input of the youth, to implement measures that effectively protect young citizens from the foreseeable impacts of the ‘mega-challenges’ like climate change, and provide the platforms for young people to rewrite the narrative.

Young people in agriculture are taking a seat at the solutions dining table.
Their restless desire to change the trajectory should serve us all food for thought.
As the people who will be most greatly impacted by climate change, social upheaval and ecological unravelling, they need to be armed with the skills and knowledge to face these head-on, and they need to be part of developing the global redesign.

When given the capacity, support and trust – these restless young people push the boundaries and become a force for ambitious positive change.

 

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Our 2017 Archie finalists farewell the Sydney Royal Easter Show  

Each year the finalists in The Archibull Prize travel to the Sydney Showground  in November for our Awards and Exhibition Day.

We leave them in the loving hands of the education team at the showground to be stored and then showcased in all their glory at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in March/April of the following year.

Following the show our Archies then travel back across the country to their homes with the exception of

The Archie who will reside in Minister Blair’s Martin Place office for the next twelve months

Minister Martin Place

The Archie who will reside in the Director Generals Office

Director General Martin Place

The Archie who will reside in the Minister’s country HQ at Orange

Minister Oragne Office

and the Archie’s who have been chosen by the RAS of NSW to take pride of place at their events for the next 12 months

A big shout out to Jenny Hughes RAS Senior Agricultural Education Coordinator and her team for their support in showcasing the Archies to close to 1 Million people at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

IMG_4223 Jenny Hughes RAS Senior Agricultural Education Coordinator double checks the Archie’s are secure as they are loaded by Hunter and Co Transport for their journey from the showground to their place of display for the next 12 months 

 

A big shoutout to our supporting partners without whom none of this would happen

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Young Farming Champions Danila Marini and Max Edwards bring the research to the farm

Many of our Young Farming Champions are pursuing career in research with Dr Danila Marini and Max Edwards choosing careers in the wool industry with a special interest in on-farm technology 
Max is a fourth generation sheep farmer who grew up in the paddocks and shearing shed of Catombal Park near Wellington.  He moved to the city to study a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience at The University of Sydney, and employed emerging technology as the focus for his honours project. Using remote monitoring techniques Max set up an automatic, solar-powered weigh station on water points and trained sheep to walk across it. Their weights were recorded and matched to electronic tags in their ears, and the data was sent directly to his laptop. The project provided rich information on the factors affecting live-weight change in lambs. See the full story in The Land here. 
 

Max has long term plans to extend his honours research with a PhD and to branch into consultancy but for now is gaining real-world experience back on the family farm.  Surrounded by family members with diverse careers in the agriculture sector, Max and his father are making the most of the technology and expertise available to them to run their business to the optimum level.

 ‘My first year full-time on the farm has seen us cope with some out of left field animal health challenges and low rainfall but it’s been very rewarding to work with my family to build business resilience.’    

The challenges of running a family business will hold Max in good stead for his future plans and give him credibility in the world of consulting, allowing him to fuse the academic and practical aspects of agriculture.

Danila is originally a city kid whose first interaction with agriculture was as a 9 year old and her family bought a small property and started a little hobby farm where they had chickens, cattle, sheep and goats. Danila had always loved animals and attributes the hobby farm to sparking her interest in agriculture. The agriculture sector will be forever grateful she answered the call to country.

After finishing her PhD at UNE,  Danila is putting her expertise into developing technology to get the best outcomes for animals and farmers 
Below is a story on Danila’s latest work with virtual fencing for sheep. This story first appeared in the Stock Journal.  UNE researcher to discuss training sheep to virtual fences
University of New England post-doctoral fellow Danila Marini will be a guest speaker at the Angaston Ag Bureau hogget competition, on training sheep in virtual fencing systems.

 University of New England post-doctoral fellow Danila Marini  was guest speaker at the Angaston Ag Bureau hogget competition, on training sheep in virtual fencing systems.

Sheep can be trained to remain within virtual fencing systems in the same way as cattle, according to University of New England post-doctoral fellow Danila Marini.

That is the promising early result the NSW based Uni and CSIRO has found, with sheep wearing collars responding to audio cues within three to six interactions.

Dr Marini  was a guest speaker at the Livestock E-Technology for Natural Resources Management seminar, held by the Angaston Agricultural Bureau and the Society for Precision Agriculture Australia, on Friday March 23.

She is part of a team of researchers working on the three-year virtual fencing project and hopes to develop ethical training protocol for sheep.

She says Agersens is close to commercialising the technology in cattle, but far less is known about the ability to train sheep to remain within the electric fields.

The biggest challenge for sheep will be developing an ear tag or other device to deliver the electrical stimulus.

“Australia has a lot of Merinos which grow wool so a collar won’t work by itself ,’ she said.

Dr Marini’s project is now turning to finding the optimal percentage of the flock which will need collars for effective fencing,  and also whether lambs can be trained with their mothers.

Danila also outlined a couple of other projects she is involved; one in SA with the Department of  Agriculture and Water Resources looking at using virtual collars on sheep for weed management and another with Dairy Australia looking at grazing management of dairy cattle.

The team at Art4Agriculture gets a huge buzz from following the career journeys of our Young Farming Champions. We thank our supporting partners for investing in them
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2017 Picture You in Agriculture Highlights

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Young Farming Champions with Grand Champion Archie 2017 and Wendy Taylor our art judge 

On behalf of the Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) team it gives me great pleasure to share the PYiA annual report with our loyal supporters.

Ten years ago, we started with a vision to empower young people in the agriculture to share their stories and, in doing so, engage with the community to raise awareness and increase appreciation of the Australian agriculture sector.

Ten years down the track we are delighted and humbled to know this is now a reality. With our cornerstone programs, Young Farming Champions and The Archibull Prize, we are exceeding our initial goals and taking our expectations to new levels.

The 2017 Annual Report highlights these successes.

Young Farming Champions highlights include:

  • The creation of an events activation team, which sees YFC taking their stories to diverse audiences. A recent highlight is our partnership with industry and the RAS of NSW to provide primary school students with interactive workshops and a secondary school careers workshop at the Sydney Royal Easter Show
  • Establishing themselves beyond agriculture – speaking at events such as TED talks and being selected as finalists in national Young Achiever Awards
  • Leadership roles within the agricultural industry – including positions with Farmers for Climate Action, Future Farmers Network, RAS Youth Group, ASC Next Gen and NSW Farmers Young Farmer Council
  • Creation of a media presence as youth with high credentials and strong reputations as witnessed in recent ABC Rural YFC interview Series on Country Hour.
  • Establishment of a Youth Voices Leadership Team to mentor and support the Young Farming Champions and provide an agricultural youth leadership voice to community, media and industry.

The Archibull Prize highlights include:

  • Schools now see the connection of agriculture to many aspects of their community, extending beyond food and fibre
  • Post participating in the program all students had positive attitudes towards farmers’ environmental stewardship and water resource management. 73% of teachers reported having changed the way they now think about agriculture. In particular, understanding agricultural systems from farm to final product and the challenges facing farmers. There has been an increased respect for farmers, those supporting farmers, and appreciation of the high level of competence it takes to deliver food and fibre to the community. Much of this is due to two factors: contact with Young Farming Champions and other farming / agricultural professionals; and learning about sustainability challenges affecting Agriculture through topics such as Climate Change, Biosecurity, Food Security and Waste, Renewable Energy, Healthy Communities.
  • Teachers observed a significant increase in student interest in careers in Agriculture.  At the end of the program students were able to mention more than three different careers in Agriculture with a focus on STEM e.g. agronomist, engineer, scientist, geneticist.  Students also identified STEM related career pathways in agriculture they would like to follow.  See page 19 of The Archibull Prize report here. This is in complete contrast to The Archibull Prize student entry survey where students were only able to list farming related activities and unable to list a career in agriculture. Teachers attributed this change largely to meeting a Young Farming Champion (YFC). Students developed an appreciation of the physical aspects of farming; as well as admiration for the professionalism, knowledge, work skills and ethic and personal passion of each YFC. They gained insights into farm practices and potential career pathways through hearing the YFC’s story.

 

We look forward to sharing  our 2018 journey with you.

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YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS FOLLOWING THE LEAD

Meg_Rice_058.jpgYoung Farming Champion Meg Rice, a UNE Bachelor of Law/Agriculture student was recently named a 2018 RAS Rural Achiever. It continues her list of achievements, which also include being president of the Farming Futures committee at UNE – a legacy generated by Young Farming Champions before her.

Farming Futures is an annual careers fair and dinner at the university, showcasing industries and businesses who are employing agriculture graduates. It was established in 2011 by Young Farming Champion Jo Newton. Sally Strelitz is an Outreach and Engagement Officer at UNE and supports student committees. “Jo identified there were four or five jobs per ag graduate, yet students felt like they had little awareness of where these jobs actually were. Farming Futures seeks to bridge this gap in the sector, “Sally says. “The inaugural careers fair had 11 booths and this year we are looking at about 40 different businesses from around Australia who are coming to exhibit and talk to our students.” Jo showed foresight in the overarching design of Farming Futures which has helped ensure its ongoing sustainability. Things like actively planning for succession, fostering a culture to support this and seeking mentors to guide future iterations of the committee are ideas rarely implemented in volunteer student organizations.

This sustainability has seen several Young Farming Champions take up positions on the committee, the latest being Meg. “Last year Meg was president of RSUS (Rural Science Undergraduate Society) and on the committee of Farming Futures and now she has moved to president of Farming Futures,” Sally says. “Meg is very open-minded. She is happy to take other people’s ideas on board, but she also knows what she wants. She is an inclusive leader. She’s not afraid to work hard and take a risk if she thinks something is a good idea. I see Meg’s career will be one to watch.”

We think Meg’s career is one to watch too