Meet Deanna Johnston proud rookie farmer

Today’s guest blog post comes from Deanna Johnston who is very proud to be a rookie farmer.

Another great story from the inspiring new generation of farmers

With my Kelpie pup I trained

If day care consists of riding shotgun with Dad in the tractor when sowing and harvesting; sleeping in the tender wool bin during shearing time then this has been the best start to my rural career. Hi I’m Deanna Johnston and I’m a rookie farmer.

Our breeding ewes with their lambs

I had already started shearing, doing the long-blow on our Coolalee rams before I was going to primary school. My Dad worked as a shearing contractor before settling back down to the farm which gave him invaluable insights as to how  other farmers run successful farm. Dad had always had an interest in sheep, especially Merinos and he began to get more serious about the sheep enterprise on the farm in the year 2000. We turned to the SRS strain of Merinos and started breeding for a purpose – dual purpose merinos. Currently we are experiencing an  extended dry period  and are grazing  2000 breeder ewes with another  800 little mouths in the feedlot.

After primary school the next step for me to broaden my knowledge  and an early start to my career calling to the agricultural industry was to attend Yanco Agricultural High School. Right from year seven I was part of the sheep show team in which I was able to become part of the McCaughey White Suffolk stud where we started to implement Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer into the breeding program.

Supreme Ewe at Holbrook

Completing my Certificate IV in Woolclassing and Certificate II in Shearing by the age of 16 proved to me that this was the industry I wanted to be part of. Since then, shearing competitions and wool handling competitions have become my weekend hobby.

Competiting in Fleece Judging

In March this year I came out in fourth position in the State Final Fleece judging competition in Sydney. These competitions are great for refining the skills that are taught in TAFE Certificates. An added bonus is you meet other young people with the same passion for the wool and sheep industry.

4th in State Final Fleece Judging

In 2014 I was runner up the National Young Guns competition at LambEX in Adelaide which over 1000 people attended. This competition involves writing an essay on the topic: “attracting young people into the prime lamb industry” and creating a poster to go with it. When in Adelaide I had to speak on my topic, answers questions posed by the judges who also adjudicated on the essay, poster and speech component. This was an incredible experience for me as I met many industry leaders, local and overseas producers and scientists and academics who all had the same passion: the future of agriculture  in Australia and the the world.

The PETA campaign against the shearing industry was released while I was attending the LambEX conference. It hit me hard as I was very disappointed that industry my family was part of was being portrayed in this negative light   This made me even more determined to share the positive stories far and wide about the wool industry I love and the farmers I know who care deeply about their animals.

Shearing competition at Yanco (1st place)

Having been lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by the sheep and wool industry I know it has a lot of offer. I want to share this message with other young people who haven’t had the same opportunities. The Australian wool industry provides thousands of jobs both in Australia and overseas. No matter where your interests lie, the wool industry has a career path suited to you. Careers in the wool industry can be divided into two main areas — on-farm and off-farm. By attracting young people into the sheep and wool industry, it will only grow and become more successful, not only focusing on the producing side but through the whole chain from paddock to plate and in this case clothing.

With the end of my HSC year nearing I have been fortunate enough at my age to have to have met some amazing industry professionals including Dr. Jim Watt and Errol Brumpton (OAM). When I finish school my ambitions are to study a double degree in Agriculture and Business at the University of New England in Armidale with the prospects that I will come back on the farm and take over the sheep enterprise (I haven’t told Dad yet I might tell him about this a bit later).

So how I spent day care wasn’t so bad at all as it left me with a great passion and a dream. Being in this agricultural industry is where I want to stay as the world is going to become more reliant on what the industry can offer. The future is exciting and I am lucky I will be a part of it along with many other young and enthusiastic people.

Breaking news – The 2016 National Merino Challenge results are in and Deanna has taken out 3rd palace in the secondary school division and her school Yanco Agricultural High School have won Champion Team

AWINMC

Well done Deanna and Yanco

For Sharna Holman a career in cotton sparked by Ag in the Classroom

Today we are catching up with Sharna Holman who I invited to write a blog in 2012. You can find it here  Its so rewarding to find four years later a young girl from the city so inspired by her journey from Ag in the classroom to the Sydney Royal Easter Show and a scholarship to the Australian Cotton Conference now fulfilling her dreams with a career in Cotton

This Sharna’s update ……..

My name is Sharna Holman, a born and bred Sydneysider and since I could remember I have had a love of animals, being outside and working with others. However these days while a lot of that is the same, home is in Emerald, Central Queensland and I work in agriculture loving everything it has to offer. But the real question is how did a Sydney girl end up in Central Queensland working in the cotton industry?

Over four years ago I spoke to and wrote a blog titled Sydney Show a Career Maker for Lynne Strong about how influential the Sydney Royal Easter Show and agricultural shows can be on young people thinking of becoming involved in the agricultural industry. I was extremely fortunate in attending Muirfield High School, in Sydney’s north-west, which had a farm where my passion for agriculture was quickly sparked. Students had the opportunity to participate in competitions at agricultural shows as well as being involved in Art4Agriculture’s own The Archibull Prize program. It’s these opportunities that encourage students like myself, particularly those who don’t come from agricultural backgrounds, to find out more about the industry and the different career paths available.

Sharna Holman 1

Muirfield High School’s food and vegetable display at the Sydney Royal Easter Show
Sharna Holman 2

 Muirfield High School’s Archie on display in the Food Farm in 2011.

At the end of school, I definitely knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture so began studying a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Sydney because of the diverse subject options and professional development available. I went into the degree not being exactly sure what I wanted to do but throughout the four years I went through so many options: geneticists, agricultural marketing and communications, researcher, agricultural teacher, agronomist? Whatever I was learning during the semester I loved and wanted to learn more. Throughout my degree I grabbed as many opportunities as possible that helped me learn more about the agricultural industry and interests within the industry.

Sharna Holman 3

The University of Sydney team coming 2nd place at the Grain Growers National Universities Crop Judging Competition in 2015.

In 2014 I was awarded a Cotton Australia scholarship, having the opportunity to attend the 17th Australian Cotton Conference on the Gold Coast. I left the conference having learnt about Cry proteins toxins used in plant breeding, pickers, fibre quality, marketing Australian cotton as an ethically and sustainably produced fibre and so much more, as well as having had the chance to network and learn from the experience of growers, researchers, and people who work in the industry in many capacities.

Sharna Holman 3

A really good question would be, ‘Sharna, cotton? Have you ever seen a cotton plant before going to the cotton conference?’ and the answer would be a definite no, but did I want to learn more, yes!

It was through networking with researchers at this conference that I organised my honours project investigating the development of tolerance to toxin in Helicoverpa moths, one of the main pests in the cotton industry, with the assistance of a CRDC Summer Scholarship. So in the Summer of 2014 – 2015 I moved to Narrabri and began working on my honours project at the Australian Cotton Research Institute. It was here that I learnt so much more about the cotton industry, agronomy and pest management through having the chance to spend time with researchers and assist with trials. I finished university knowing that I would love the chance to work and be further involved in the cotton industry.

Early this year I was fortunate in getting a job I love, in an industry I love and made the 16 hour journey from Sydney to Central Queensland. I work in the cotton industry as an Extension Officer working with growers helping them connect to research to improve their productivity and profitability, while also having a role in CottonInfo, the cotton industry’s extension program, as Technical Specialist for Disease, Ratoon and Volunteer Management. Even though I have only been working in my role for a short period time, I absolutely love the feeling of waking up to a job I love.

Sharna Holman 4

 
I  assist with research trials occurring around Central Queensland. This trial is exploring the different planting windows growers have the opportunity to plant in with the release of Bollgard III in the 2016 – 2017 season.

Sharna Holman 5

 I get to meet, work with a variety of different growers and people.

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 I have the chance to learn new things everyday

 Sharna Holman 7

I don’t have a ‘normal’ working day. Some days I will be in a field working on a trial, other days I might be in a meeting, or you could find me at my desk analysing results or writing up an article on crop protection for growers. Some days I even get to have an awesome view from the picker.

I am so lucky to be involved in an industry where the growers, researchers and industry members are incredibly innovative and passionate. The cotton industry is constantly trying to look for new ways to be sustainable and efficient while remaining productive throughout the entire production chain. Everyday I look forward to helping growers find and obtain information through resources, trial results and workshops.

I believe anyone can find a role they would love within the agricultural industry, whether that be within research, business, marketing, farm management, mechanics and robotics – there are so many different career paths. However for someone without an agricultural background, often agriculture is misunderstood and people only see the surface. Opportunities like participating in events ( or volunteering) at agricultural shows and the Art4Agriculture’s Archibull Prize program allow you to get a hands on view and see the exciting agriculture sector I see with boundless cutting edge career opportunities.

Meet Chloe Dutschke who found her calling on a sheep station in South Australia

Today we welcome guest blogger Chloe Dutschke a young girl who loves her job working on a sheep station in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. Chloe is committed to showing the world that there are career pathways in the wool industry that welcome creative individuals with a diversity of knowledge.

Chloe Dutschke 1

Hi Guys, my name is Chloe Dutschke and I’m 22 years old. I sometimes wish I was raised on a family farm, but truthfully I’m a country girl who grew up on 8 acres in The Clare Valley wine region of South Australia. Growing up we had an assortment of pets including chickens, sheep and of course horses, but my favourite was our pet pig Sid. I have always had a love for animals (yes I’m the soppy kind who cries in the movie Red Dog) which has led me on an amazing journey, and got me a job that I love, on a sheep station in the Southern Flinders Ranges, SA, developing my newly discovered passion for wool production.

My story starts on a family friend’s white Suffolk stud in the Riverland, SA. My sisters and I spent many weekends in the ute checking on the sheep, especially at lambing time. I loved driving through the mallee scrub, watching the ewes feeding small white lambs, and seeing their happy little tails wiggling while drinking. I soon turned from the passenger to driver, and on visits from Clare, would zoom through the sand dunes rounding up the sheep or catching lambs for marking. Ram sales were another favourite.

Merino Ram Sale

Merino Rams Sale Source 

I’d spend all day watching the farmers choose their bids and cross check their programs as the next ram entered the ring. Listening to the auctioneers chaotic spiel, engaging the crowd and seeing them pick up on the smallest flick of a card was always exciting and would send me into a panic each time I raised my hand to shoo a fly, scared that I’d make a bid!

 Chloe Dutschke 2

Lamb marking

It was in year 7 that I started to develop my interest in agriculture. I loved ag class and only doing a semester each year was not ideal, but I worked really hard and enjoyed every moment of being out in the veggie garden, cleaning out the pig eco shelter or feeding the layer chicks. The highlight for me was definitely attending the Royal Adelaide Show. Every year Clare High School takes goats and steers to the show and participates in the led and carcass competitions; this is highly competitive amongst students and the best fun! I was a part of the goat team in year 10 and the steers in year 11.

Clare High School at Adelaide ShowI loved every moment of being a part of this team; it was a great way to learn responsibility around animals and obviously got you 4 free days at the Royal Adelaide Show. By year 11 I had decided I was going to study Animal Science at university and had to give up my beloved ag class to pursue my prerequisites of maths, chemistry and biology. What a drag those subjects were, but it all payed off ,and in 2012 I packed my bags and moved to Adelaide to start my Bachelor of Animal Science at The University of Adelaide.

When I started university I had a real passion for wildlife. I wanted to be a zoo keeper that saved endangered animals. Throughout university, my passion for wildlife took a back seat as I developed more of an interest for livestock production. I studied a mixed bag of subjects including nutrition, welfare and ethics, anatomy, health, genetics, reproduction, livestock and many more. Whilst each subject opened new thoughts to what I could do in the agriculture industry, I could never quite make up my mind, about which area I would like to pursue as a career.

Chloe Dutschke 3

Wool of a sheep in Indonesia

My last year of university was the best by far; I participated in The Intercollegiate Meat Judging Competition, where I was part of the team that came 4th in the placings category. We competed against other universities in Australia as well as international teams such as America, Indonesia and Korea. This was a great week long program where I learnt so much about consumers and got a real idea for what I could do in this industry. In November I was also lucky enough to go to Indonesia for a 2 week study trip, primarily looking at the live export industry. We visited feedlots, abattoirs, community projects, and The Bogor Agricultural University as well as many other interesting places. Going to Indonesia helped me understand the live export industry and it really hit home the amount of consumer misconceptions within the Australian public. For me, I went to Indonesia with my own unrealistic views of the industry and it has been worthwhile to see the industry first-hand and now be able to generate my own opinions and views on the topic.

 Chloe Dutschke 4

Throwing a fleece

Fresh out of university and still unsure of exactly what career path I wanted to take, I successfully landed a job on a sheep station north east of Orroroo, SA. My first day on the job was on January 5th 2015, I was thrown straight into shearing and crutching, the busiest times for a sheep producer. I was asked to roust-a-bout, and was well and truly in over my head trying to throw fleeces, skirt and press. As I stood at the table skirting the wool, running my fingers along the fleece, I really began to appreciate the wondrous fibre that wool is. I love the feel of wool between my fingers and how each fleece can differ in length, micron, colour and strength between breeds and even ages of sheep. It’s amazing to think that a burr covered sheep which has been grazing only on pastoral land can produce such a soft clean fleece. Since my first day I have been furthering my knowledge about wool and how to breed and grow sheep to produce the best wool possible. I’m not really sure where I‘m heading in this industry, whether I would like to become a wool classer or continue on stations, but the opportunities are endless and eventually I know I’ll find the right fit for me. For now I am super excited to develop my passion and continue to educate myself as much as possible about this remarkable fibre that many generations have developed before me.

Check out this great from Farm to Fashion video and like Chloe you will be fascinated by wool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impact 25 – Vote for Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert

The accolades keep coming for Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert

Currently on the journey of a lifetime to ParisCOP21 Josh has just been named in the top 200 people in the running for the Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 list

From CEOs of some of Australia’s largest charities and the Prime Minister, to one-person teams, the Not for Profit sector has spoken and nominated a wide range of people for the second Pro Bono Australia Impact 25.

Almost 200 people from across Australia and almost every aspect of the for-good sector have been recognised for being the most influential.

You can vote for Josh here and excitingly another legend in agriculture has also made the list.  Make Alexandra Gartmann one of your three votes

It is the second time Pro Bono Australia has called on those within the sector to nominate its champions.

After two weeks of voting, the top 25 influencers will be unveiled, acknowledging them for being leaders in a sector that accounts for 4.3 per cent of Australia’s GDP and employs over one million people.

With hundreds of people taking part in the nomination process, CEOs dominate the list of nominees, with 63 being chosen.

There were also former and current prime ministers, 2015’s Australian of the Year, and an author.

A large number of nominees also came from the executive level of Not for Profit organisations.

Last year’s Impact 25 was made up of a wide selection of household names, including World Vision CEO, Tim Costello, and domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty, both of whom have been nominated again this year.

Voting is now open and will close on Thursday 3 December.

Everyone who votes can go into the draw to win one of two free tickets to the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s 2016 conference valued at $1,750.

Click here to see the full list of nominees and to vote for Impact 25.

– See more at: http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2015/11/impact-25-nominees-unveiled#sthash.Wnc2hmP8.dpuf

 

Nick Hovey says you can combine your love of cattle and dogs and the land without owning a farm

Today’s guest post comes from Nick Hovey who is combining his love of the land, cattle and dogs to breed cattle that provide both nutritious protein and have a low environmental footprint

This is Nick’s story ……….

Beef cattle and working dogs: It isn’t often that I’m not talking about either one of these two topics. Or in general…Agriculture and farming.

Nick Hovey (2)

A David and Goliath moment if I ever saw one 

Growing up in three capital cities my ‘fate’ didn’t look like I would end up on a farm. My ‘want’ to be a farmer began at a very early age when my family would make a once yearly road-trip to Gulargambone NSW. Why Gular?? Mum’s sister and her husband lived on a sheep/wheat property there. Uncle Phil took my brother and I everywhere with him for the week that we were there; whether it was simply moving mobs, shearing, drenching or lamb marking, we were always there.

I am the youngest of three children and the only one who ended up on the land. My schooling years were spent in Adelaide, Melbourne and then finally settled in Sydney where my primary school years were spent bragging about our visits to ‘my uncle’s farm’. High school was interesting for me as I went to Saint Ignatius College, Riverview. There were 250 students in my year, of which some were boarders from farming families. I spent some holidays on mate’s properties and we helped out with some of the mustering duties. It was in year nine at Riverview that I was introduced to the Ag program and show cattle. For the next four years I spent plenty of afternoons (when I wasn’t at footy training) down at the Ag plot preparing steers for various shows.

Nick Hovey (4)

Nick Hovey combining a love of the land, cattle and dogs to live the dream 

Inspired by being part of the school cattle show team my passion for the sheep industry suddenly shifted to beef cattle. Through the show program I met many people and was fortunate enough to be taken under their wing. After leaving school, I decided to take six months off study before starting at the University of Western Sydney. After the first six to eight weeks of uni I just wasn’t enjoying it and still wanted to be a grass roots farmer. Alistair McLaren saw this and took me in, gave me a job on the Angus stud that he managed and guided me in the right direction. It was then that I managed to finally get my first working dog.

Somehow in the year of 2011 I managed to wrangle two jobs (Tobruk Sheep Station and Sweven Angus) along with TAFE at Richmond. Tobruk was a great experience, which gave me the ability to hone my public speaking in front of what were mainly Japanese, Chinese or Korean tourists whilst doing something that I really enjoyed. It gave me the opportunity to get my Kelpie dog working in the yards, learn to shear and also teach people how to crack a whip and throw the odd boomerang. The days at Tobruk were rewarding, Sweven were challenging and TAFE started to give me a step up.

The progression onto a large sheep breeding operation in the Goulburn district was a challenge. I was still seen as that ‘city kid’ and many people didn’t think that I could do it. However, I am grateful for the time that I had both there and then in Illabo on a mixed enterprise in 2012 that my bosses had the faith in me. I will never forget the night in the Illabo pub where I was told ‘well, from the city you must be not much chop eh?’. It is the paradigm of thought such as this that has helped me to strive to be the best that I can possibly be.

I still loved the idea of showing cattle at Sydney Royal, however 2012 was my final year and I haven’t looked back. At the beginning of my employment at the Chudleigh’s property in Frogmore it was very clear that I would not be allowed to show cattle at the Sydney due to shearing. By that stage I had completed a Holistic Management course, which really opened up my eyes to using the ‘tools’ of our trade in a different manner. The idea of regenerative agriculture and the ability to capture and store carbon in the soil  through the use of planned grazing management and recovery periods has really appealed to me.

It feels like I have packed a lot into the five and a half years since leaving school, however I have appreciated the opportunities and experience that have been put to me and have tried not to let one pass me up. I now feel like I have found my niche with my position as the Assistant Manager at Coota Park Blue-E.

Nick Hovey (3)

Nick Hovey Assistant Farm Manger at Coota Park Blue-E 

We currently have 600 breeding females, growing out our steers to feedlot weight and joining all our heifers.

Probably the most exciting part of the program at Coota Park is that we breed AngusXShorthorn bulls and test them for Feed Efficiency.

Measuring Feed Conversion efficiency is the measuring the ability of cattle to turn grass in beef ( or milk) as efficiently as they possibly can. We are currently running two tests per year in the purpose built facility that has 48 individual pens. For a period of 91 days (21 of which are allow for the bull calves to adjust to the ration) we have bulls in the pens. Feed is weighed into each bull’s feed tub and what isn’t eaten is weighed at the end of each week. Every fortnight, the bulls are weighed and then put into new pens. I love this because the methane emitted from a cow, bull, steer or heifer is directly related to the amount of feed eaten. So beyond the fact that cattle that are highly efficient grass converters require less feed for the same weight gain they also have a smaller footprint on the planet

FCE

I am also very passionate about my team of working dogs, they have the brains and ability to get to cattle in the hills that the motorbikes are physically not capable.

Nick Hovey (1)

Taking my dogs to working cattle dog trials has become a hobby of mine, which means that my best mates aren’t only with me at work, they are there for play too. I’ll tell you an important thing to remember – your dogs will always listen, you can tell them anything and be confident that they wont blurt it out to anybody else.

So if you see me around, chances are dogs and cattle will come up in conversation. But I am always open to new ideas and conversations.

Nick Hovey (5)

We give our cattle the best environmentally friendly life experience we can and we are proud to know that when they go of to be processed we are part of the team of Australian beef farmers who supply 6 billion protein meals to the world each year

BTW if you want to know more about the science around feed conversion efficiency and breeding cattle fit for purpose that have a lower environmental impact. You can find a paper written by Coota Park principal Jon Wright given at the Grasslands Conference here

Snakes alive and horsing around

Today I got an insight into a career option that never occurred to me and most definitely would never sit on my wish list.

But I found out today there are plenty of young people much braver than me and very excited to consider a career as a  herpetologist

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If amphibians and reptiles are your passion then TAFE NSW has the perfect course for you

After a meeting with the bright minds of the agricultural education arm at the Sydney Royal Easter Show I took up the opportunity to call in at The Stables.and sit in on a  great initiative in process that is a result of a partnership between  TAFE NSW – WSI and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW

This week saw the roll out of the latest round of Career Readiness Programs in Animal Care and Equine.  The programs are designed to open pathways and provide learners with a sense of possible career options.

A4 flyer - Career Readiness Program V2

Each program offers a one week intensive ‘hands on’ course handling animals at the state of the art facilities of the Sydney Showground.  Students are trained by the industry expert teachers from Richmond TAFE and enjoy a range of guest speakers throughout the week. The program is facilitated through a simulated work environment, providing learners with a taste of employment options.

The program provides students with advice on suitable career options in their chosen area of industry and assists them to develop pathway programs suited to their skill levels.

You might also like to check out their promo video to gain a sense of the program. 2014 Career Readiness Program

Grain farmer, ag-science student and storyteller Hugh Burrell loves to share a yarn from the farm

The bush is in Hugh Burrell’s blood and farming has been his calling since the day dot. He’s a 4th generation farmer, a 4th year Agricultural Science student and a proud product of Narrabri, NSW. At boarding school in Sydney, Hugh was known for enthralling his boarding house mates with his wild and entertaining “Yarns from the Farm”… perhaps little has changed, because today’s guest blog is a great read!

Let’s hand it over to you, Hugh…

Hugh_Burrell_Profile_pic

2390: numbers I will never forget. Now that you know all my passwords I’d better let you know who I am. I’m Hugh Burrell, a 4th generation born farmer from Narrabri, NSW. My father is a farmer, my grandfather was a farmer and my great grandfather was a farmer. I am the youngest born of my family, with an older brother and sister. We were all raised on our family property “Woodlands” north east of Narrabri, nestled in the foothills of the Nandewar ranges. Being a family farm spanning many generations we have been involved in a variety of operations from pigs, chooks, sheep, cattle, grains, cotton, to canola and dogs. However my fondest memories come from our days as mixed cropping and cattle producers. These formative years of my life spent trailing, with poddy calf in tow, my grandfather, father and brother around the rich basalt soils checking for weeds in the wheat and pulling out black oats to feed to my poddy lambs at home, are some memories that I still reminisce about today.

With my father and grandfather at the helm of the business when I was growing up, we began a more intensive winter cropping regime. We went from running merino sheep for wool and fattening lambs on oats to a full blown wheat and barley operation. The days spent with “Grampa” on the old Chamberlain tractor pushing up rocks to clear the way for Dad to come through and plant wheat are fresh in my memory. Growing up meant extra work for me, as I grew into my gangly frame I was more useful with jobs like fencing and weed chipping, which my father knew and used to his advantage. However, something he came to learn was that I loved this work, hands on learning, out in the open, and providing something for the world to eat.

Hugh Burrell_Interested locals

Interested Locals

Heading off to Narrabri Public School saw this idea of working outside flourish, where my teacher was often heard calling, “Hugh, what are you doing out here?” to which I would show her the perfectly cultivated rows of the sandpit and reply, “Just farming.” This became a more frequent response as the years went on and this “just farming” idea became a driving force.

We began leasing a property on the other side of town to our farm, so during the week Grampa would pick me up from school and we’d head out to check the sorghum, wheat, and mungbeans we grew out there. During the summer we would take turns scaring the birds off the ripe sorghum heads while recounting our day to each other, being a quite kid I just listened to the stories. This seemingly endless time spent driving around the crops, refilling the tractor, checking for weeds and talking to each other was the foundation of my passion for farming. The nature of a family farm is essential to agriculture throughout the world; the care that is taken with each step and the knowledge that can be transferred between generations is a vital part of our industry.

Hugh Burrell_A few WheatBix

A few wheat bix

Growing into my brother’s clothes it was time to ship off to boarding school. I was 11, and my first day of school at The Scots College was only my second ever visit to Sydney. This was another foundational experience for me, the place where I met some of my closest mates to this day and that fostered my rural blood. Being one of 200 or so country boys in a school of 1000, it’s fair to say we stuck out. Our city friends often quizzed us about our holiday activities, to which I loved telling stories of the farm, harvesting, mustering, spraying and everything else that we got up to. Talking to others about farming – some who were almost oblivious to the facts – was great fun for me, I loved getting up in front of the boarding house on our first night back after the holidays to recite “Yarns from the Farm.”

Moving along at school, I studied Biology and Business Studies in the hope of pursuing a career on our family farm, continuing my forefather’s tradition. However, with some succession decisions still in the pipeline and my dream of heading home to “Woodlands” stalled for the time being, I knew uni would be a great opportunity. I ended up at Sydney University enrolled in Agricultural Science, which has been a great experience for me, instilling a respect for research and its part in agriculture, particularly in Australia.

Throughout my degree I have been lucky enough to be involved in various field trips around NSW, learning from others in the industry about how they apply science to their farms and businesses. This has really nailed down the point of agricultural research, which I am dedicated to use in my career in agriculture. In my third year of study I was involved in the Developing Agriculture in Developing Countries unit which involved a three week trip through Laos, South East Asia. We were able to meet with multinational companies, non-government organizations and government bodies to talk about the impact that agricultural development has on a developing a country. This was an amazing experience, from planting rice with the locals to hiking through the rugged limestone cliffs; it was a true example that agriculture can take you anywhere.

Hugh Burrell_Rice planting in Laos

Rice planting in Laos

I am now in my 4th year of study with a focus on agronomy and precision agriculture. I’m looking to undertake my honours research project in 2016 in the grain production area, centred on crop and variety selection and management in the Narrabri area.

I’ve been working every summer holidays with Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) in Narrabri, helping harvest the trial crops, seed cleaning, and hand harvesting for 3 weeks in December 2014 at 40oc – that was a true experience. This work has truly highlighted the importance of plant breeding for select region specific traits that give farmers that little bit extra ability to grow more crop per hectare and per mega-litre, especially in these challenging climatic times.

I have a passion for agriculture that has been fostered from birth. Being brought up in a region built on farming, it’s safe to say it’s in my blood. I am really looking forward to the challenges ahead of my honours project and what the real world holds. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll be back out in the bush soon, chasing the sun all day and growing food for the world – hopefully somewhere out around postcode 2390.

Cheers, Hugh Burrell