Wool is taking Young Farming Champion Samantha Wan higher and further than she ever dreamed

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Wool Young Farming Champion Sam Wan credits her YFC training for taking her career to new levels and wow, isn’t she kicking some goals! Here are some of the things Sam has been up to in recent months:

International Conferences:

In May Sam was accepted into the International Wool Textile Organisation’s (IWTO) Young Professionals Program and she attended her first overseas conference in Kowloon, Hong Kong – her Mum’s hometown! “The opportunity was invaluable in increasing my awareness and understanding of all aspects of the wool pipeline, international networking, current projects and innovations within the industry. Fascinating topics included synthetic contribution to micro-plastics in the ocean, wool’s position in fibre ratings, wellness benefits with bedding and clothing backed by solid science, and green buildings.” Sam also found Hong Kong’s weather – 35oC and 80% humidity – just made for wool with its properties of moisture wicking and quick drying.

Speaking Engagements:

  • Sam recently spoke at an Elders South Australian growers function where feedback on her presentation and her enthusiasm for wool was extremely positive.
  • She was interviewed for the ABC’s Victorian Country Hour on the last wool sale of the selling season in Melbourne
  • She will be presenting the Elders/Southern Clip of the Year awards at Sheepvention in Hamilton later in the year.

Industry Conferences:

Sam is speaking at the Soils Make Sense careers forums at the Careers & Technology Hub at the  Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo this week; and is also attending forums and stewarding for the show.

Industry Recognition:

All Sam’s hard work is paying off and this month she was recognised with the One Elders Operational Performance Award. She has also just been announced as one of three finalists in the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia’s Annual Wool Broker Award.

“The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia’s Annual Wool Broker Award recognises and rewards excellence in wool broking in Australia. The Award recognises client servicing, auctioneering and/or innovation by a wool broker staff member who has been in the wool broking industry for 10 years or less and who is working for a NCWSBA member.” Source

Congratulations Sam. It is wonderful to see our Young Farming Champions take the skills they have learnt in the program and apply them so successfully to the wider world.

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Meet Alexander Stephens whose cotton picking life is taking him on a big journey across this vast country

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Kimberley Agricultural Investment (KAI), with financial injections from the Federal Government and the private sector, is about to harvest Western Australia’s first wet season commercial cotton crop in nearly fifty years and Cotton Australia’s Young Farming Champion Alexander Stephens will be the man doing the picking.

Since the initial cotton industry in the Kimberley’s Ord Irrigation Scheme collapsed in 1974 after a ten year run the science of cotton has come a long way with the development of new varieties, a huge reduction in the amount of pesticide used and an increase in water use efficiencies. KAI’s crop, which was planted in February, heralds a brand new era, and after a challenging growing season with higher than normal spring temperatures, is ready to harvest. Read the back story here

Cotton Australia Young Farming Champion Alexander Stephens is driving the harvest – literally –as he is aboard the picker contracted for the job. Alexander’s adventure as Western Australia’s only cotton picker comes at the end of a season that has seen him travel through Queensland and New South Wales following the cotton harvest. The western extension to his job came about after his boss and Nuffield Scholar Matthew McVeigh entered into discussions with fellow Nuffield Scholar Luke McKay, farm manager for KAI.

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Leaving Hay on July 8th with the cotton picker aboard a truck from BJC Heavy Haulage of Goodiwindi and Alexander in an escort vehicle, the convoy travelled 3900km through Bourke, Mt Isa and Katherine to arrive in Kununurra five days later.

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Alexander has been fascinated with large machinery since he was a boy playing in the sandpit and says:

“In reality the toys have just got a lot bigger and

I have migrated from the sandpit to a farm.”

And his computerised cotton picker is indeed a big toy weighing in at 32 tonnes with a laden bale, and standing 5.2m tall and 6.5m wide. With GPS to measure yield mapping the picker toddles along at 7km/hr and can harvest up to 45-50ha each day.

Alexander Stephens

Alexander explains how a Cotton Picker works to students at Calvary Christian College 

Alexander expects he will be on the picker for about 4 weeks beginning with a 16ha feasibility trial plot before the remainder of the 350ha is picked for KAI and trucked across Australia to the Louis Dreyfus Company gin at Dalby in QLD.

The world is watching this momentous occasion as commercial cotton moves into the Kimberley and Alexander is excited to be playing such a crucial role.

“Being able to work and travel around the different cotton growing regions that Australia has to offer is an amazing experience and after starting back with the McVeigh family two years ago, I never would have thought that I would have an opportunity to make my way northwest to Kununurra to pick cotton,” he says. “This experience is a combination of excitement and pressure because there is a lot riding on the outcome of this harvest not only from the researchers involved in the trial crops but also for Australian and international investors waiting to find out yield results from the commercial crop.”

Alexander will be hosting our Picture You in Agriculture Facebook page during Cotton picking  time in two weeks time so stay tuned and be part of this watershed moment for agriculture in the Ord

This great video from Bess Gairns shows you how a Cotton picker works

#thiscottonpickinglife #YouthVoices18 #Youthinag

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Young Farming Champions Muster July 2018 Week 3

This week’s Young Farming Champions stories from around the country

In the Field

Cotton Young Farming Champion Alexander Stephens takes out this year’s award for the most fields visited having covered over 6000km from Dalby, QLD, to Hay, NSW, and up to Kununurra, WA, to pick the world’s strongest and whitest cotton.

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What a way to see Australia, driving very big toys! We can’t wait to hear more about cotton picking on the Ord River, Alexander.

Wool Young Farming Champion Emma Turner spent last week home on the station collecting data for her honours thesis looking at the differences between 6 monthly and 12 monthly shearing. It involved lots of colour:

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Out of the Field

Youth Voices Leadership Team Chair Jo Newton will be hosting our social media pages this week. Head on over to our Picture You in Agriculture Facebook page to follow along and enjoy Jo’s insights from the Dairy Research Foundation Symposium and  Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo 

YFC Anika Molesworth jetted off to Argentina this morning. By invitation from the Argentine Agriculture Minister, Anika will be visiting farms, running workshops with young farmers and presenting on global agricultural challenges and opportunities.

This program coincides with the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, and part of her brief is to collaborate with young South American farmers to prepare a report for the Ministers on the vision of strong and resilient farming sectors, enabling young farmers, and promoting future industry leaders. Anika will be working with Australian Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and visiting farmer groups to discuss collaborative relationships between countries and tackling the industry’s big challenges.

YFC Sam Coggins has just returned from Myanmar where he reviewed three Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) projects looking at pulses, soil mapping and nitrogen fertiliser efficiency. The three projects aim to improve food security and farmer livelihoods. Read more about what ACIAR is doing in Myanmar here

Sam Coggins in Rice Field

Prime Cuts

We are very excited to announce the Rice industry has joined the Art4Agriculture team and our very first Rice Young Farming Champion is Erika Heffer. Welcome Erika and thank you the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia. We’re really looking forward to working together. Read the story here

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Following us on Facebook here and Twitter here

#YouthVoices18 #ArchieAction #YouthinAg

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Erika Heffer from Ricegrowers joins the Young Farming Champions team

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A new collaboration to promote Australian agriculture has been made with the announcement that Art4Agriculture and the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) will partner in 2018.

Art4Agriculture has long been recognised for its delivery of community events such as The Archibull Prize and its training of young people with the Young Farming Champions program. Art4Agriculture works with a range of supporters and is proud to add RGA to that list and to spread the rice industry’s story across a greater audience.

“RGA is excited to support the Young Farming Champions program with RGA’s Erika Heffer from Deniliquin representing the rice industry,” RGA executive director Graeme Kruger said. “RGA understands the importance of developing the skills of our young people. The rice industry is pleased be able to share the story of rice with the wider community through our Young Farming Champion Erika.”

The Young Farming Champions program identifies youth ambassadors and future leaders and provides them with the training and skills to thrive in the modern world of agricultural advocacy. As part of the program Erika will attend workshops in Sydney under the mentorship of some of Australia’s finest communication, marketing and professional development experts. She will then have the opportunity to take her story into schools with The Archibull Prize.

“As part of the Young Farming Champions program I expect to meet like-minded young people who love agriculture and to learn alongside them about all things ambassadorship, communication and connection,” Erika said. “I am looking forward to attending workshops and undertaking professional development to prepare me to confidently share my rice story and be a young face of agriculture in my community.”

Erika sees the rice industry as an innovative and evolving one and is keen to share the good news story.

“Our Australian rice growers use 50% less water to grow one kilogram of rice than the world average.  The industry is continually improving our rice varieties to ensure we grow more crop per drop. In Australia, rice production can be switched on or off depending on the water availability, which makes it perfectly suited to our variable climate,” she said.

Welcome Erika we are all looking forward to partnering with you to inspire pride in Australian agriculture and a new generation of  agriculturalists .

Read Erika’s story here

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Young Farming Champions Muster July 2018 Week 2

This week’s Young Farming Champions stories from around the country

IN THE FIELD

This week Wool Young Farming Champion and social media superstar Emma Turner will be taking over our Art4Agriculture social media channels and showings us life on a sheep station in outback NSW. Emma’s continuing work on her Honours Research Project into six-monthly shearing of sheep and we’re super keen to find out exactly what’s involved. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages this week to catch up with Emma and her beloved sheep.

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Cotton YFC, farmer and agronomist Emma Ayliffe has finished shearing and lamb marking her first drop of lambs on her farm in Central West NSW.

This week Emma is working with her cotton farming clients to prepare their paddocks for planting next year’s cotton crop.

Cotton farmers are currently adding phosphorous fertiliser to the soil where it is needed, creating rows for planting and furrows for irrigation and preparing their nitrogen budgets.

Farmers predict soil temperature in the Riverina will have reached the required 14 degrees C for planting cotton in about six weeks.

You can find out how a cotton crop is grown here

And because safety is always the most important thing, Emma is also renewing her St Johns first aid certificate this week!

YFC and grain farmer Dan Fox says farmers in his region of the NSW Riverina are very grateful for the 44 mm of rain they received in June, with Dan’s family planting wheat, barley, canola and lentils for the 2018 season.

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Dan is looking forward to attending the Victorian No Till Farming Conference this Thursday and Friday. Dan says it’s a great opportunity to learn from and network with other farmers who share the Fox family ethos of No Till Regenerative Farming.

YFC and grain farmer Marlee Langfield is attending the annual Innovation Generation Conference in Wagga Wagga, NSW, this week.

Marlee at Innovation Generation

In far-west NSW, Wool YFC and sheep and cattle farmer Bessie Thomas is still hoping for more rain. In an average year her animals would usually eat grass growing in the paddocks but while drought conditions continue, Bessie’s family is feeding their sheep and cattle a mix of grains, seeds and hay every day. This requires driving the feed around to each watering point in every paddock and it’s a time-consuming job that doesn’t allow for much other farm work and maintenance to continue.

YFC Tim Eyes hosted students from The Lakes College at his farm. They dug for potatoes, collected fresh eggs, picked oranges from the tree and milked Joyce the dairy cow. For Tim, who has entertained children both in mainstream schools and at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, hosting the TLC students was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience. Read the full story here

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OUT OF THE FIELD

Next Monday YFC Anika Molesworth is flying to Argentina! She has been invited by the Argentine Minister of Agriculture and Uruguay Minister of Agriculture to visit farms, run workshops with young farmers, and give presentations on global agricultural challenges and opportunities.

This program coincides with the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, and part of her brief is to collaborate with young South American farmers to prepare a report for the Ministers on the vision of strong and resilient farming sectors, enabling young farmers, and promoting future industry leaders. Anika will be working with Australian Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and visiting farmer groups to discuss collaborative relationships between countries and tackling the industry’s big challenges. Happy travels and have fun, Anika!

YFC Nellie Evans, Wool YFC Adele Offley and YFC Dr Steph Fowler are going into schools in Young, NSW, for the Kreative Koalas program where they will be engaging with students about SDG Goal 12: Responsible Production and Consumption.

Youth Voices Leadership Team Chair Dr Jo Newton is sharing her leadership journey with the First National Real Estate FN squad. FN Squad is designed to bring together the First National’s under 35-year-olds for training and networking. Good luck Jo!

PRIME CUTS

Anika Molesworth has been accepted into the 2019 Homeward Bound program – a 12 month leadership program from women in STEMM to work on environmental issues and increase their strategic plans, visibility and skills development. It brings together women from all over the world, giving them personal coaches and platforms to broadcast their topics of interest. The program culminates in a voyage to Antarctica in November next year, to visit research stations, meet with scientists, and learn about climate change in this incredibly fragile region of the planet. Congratulations Anika!

Grains YFC Dee George has been announced as a state finalist in The Victorian Rural Ambassador Awards. Congrats Dee!

Grains YFC Calum Watt is a state semi-finalist in the agricultural section of the Western Australian Young Achiever awards for 2018. This week Calum was in Darwin for the Northern Food Futures Conference in his role as an AgriFutures scholarship holder, hosting a panel discussion about opportunities in the northern region. Well done Calum!

LIFETIME HIGHLIGHTS

Beef YFC Prue McCormack and Wool YFC Dione Howard are both completing their final veterinary studies exams at university this week and we wish them all the best!

Cotton YFC Casey Onus has just finished her Master of Business Administration. What a fantastic effort, well done Casey!

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#Youthvoice18 #YouthinAg #ArchieAction

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Youth off the streets and onto the farm

Using primary industries to reach and teach disadvantaged students is one benefit of The Archibull Prize.

Each year The Archibull Prize engages with a wide range of amazing students and teachers and this year The Lakes College (TLC) from the NSW Central Coast has partnered with Picture You in Agriculture, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal and  Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes to study the beef industry.

TLC is a small alternate high school for Years 9 and 10 and is part of Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets program. The school only opened in 2017, which makes this Archibull journey extra special and with 5 staff members and 24 students everyone is involved.

“We like to view The Lakes College as a strong team who all support each other day to day. We are based in Blue Haven Community Centre. We are first and foremost students, but we also cook our breakfast, recess and lunch at school in our kitchens, make sure the place is clean, tend to our veggie garden and work and play on the brilliant sporting facilities our school so fortunately has around it.” Source TLC blog 

TLC are “Raising the Steaks” as they learn about the beef industry with their Archie and mentoring them is Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes. Tim is an agricultural contractor and co-founder (with his partner Hannah) of the successful Food Farm situated in Wyong Creek less than 10km from TLC. Tim and Hannah raise grass-fed beef, lamb, chicken, eggs and vegetables and regularly invite the public through the farm gate to see their sustainable brand of agriculture.

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Tim and Hannah

On July 2 the students of TLC found themselves amongst the animals of the Food Farm. They dug for potatoes, collected fresh eggs, picked oranges from the tree and milked Joyce the dairy cow. For Tim, who has entertained children both in mainstream schools and at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, hosting the TLC students was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience.

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“It was really refreshing having unfiltered, blunt questions – they were just very honest kids,” Tim says. “They had real questions about red meat and feeding people under the poverty line so we spoke about exploring the secondary cuts such as mince, which is accessible, diverse, and quick and easy to use.”

The potato patch proved particularly popular. “They spent probably half an hour there, digging potatoes and getting their hands dirty and thinking it was the most exhilarating thing, and that was so good to see,” Tim says. Indeed the wonder of the potato patch was commented on in the school’s blog with one student saying: “Potatoes grow in the ground – seeing that blew my socks off!”

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Another aspect of the visit that impressed Tim was some of the kids said they could see a future or a progression into a job with farming. “For them to even consider, for a split second, that maybe a career in agriculture was a good idea was pretty exciting; and it definitely made me think how the agricultural industry could have an effect on the poverty line and how it could employ people who wouldn’t have an opportunity otherwise.”

The Archibull journey of The Lakes College will be one to follow in 2018. “A lot of the students are quite artistic and I think they will be incredibly surprising on what they bring to the Archies,” Tim concludes.

You can read all about The Lakes College’s visit to The Food Farm here on their Archibull blog.

#YouthVoices18 #ArchieAction #YouthinAg

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Cotton Young Farming Champion Casey Onus takes farming technology into the classroom

Keeping up with the ever-changing world of technology is often a challenge but Cotton Young Farming Champion Casey Onus is keeping cotton farmers abreast of changes in big data and farm-based technology such as drones.

“Big data is basically a fancy term for collecting all the information that comes off your farm,” Casey says. “Collecting big data enables us to make smarter decisions about where we spend our money and where it is going to have the most impact, and also allows us to pick up problems in paddocks that we can then rectify.”

The simplest example of big data is yield information. Data can be collected straight off the header and processed into paddock images. It can also be combined with satellite imagery such as NDVI (normalised difference vegetation index), allowing management plans to be made of paddocks, which in turn can lead to more targeted application of inputs such as fertiliser.

“Big data helps to make the agricultural industry as a whole more efficient,” Casey says. “By monitoring and collecting various forms of on-farm data we can really tweak efficiencies. This enables us to minimise the overuse of fertilisers and other products, and responsibly manage our environmental impact well into the future. It also aids biosecurity. When the Russian Weed Aphid came in and caused problems for the grain industry, it could actually be mapped across a geographical area from advisors scouting using some of these big data programs. If all of these programs talk to each other you can literally map that across Australia. And that’s huge. That gives potential to know what is happening at any given point in time and allows us to react accordingly.”

Although Casey believes satellite imagery and big data remain more economical for large-scale crops, she knows smaller technology such as drones has multiple uses on the farm from stock scouting in rugged terrain to monitoring water troughs and weed populations. At the recent Tocal Field Days she took drone technology to interested members of the public. “We set up a drone simulator on the big screen in the Hunter Local Land Services’ tent to encourage people to come and ask their questions about using drones on farm and to have a go at flying before they make the investment to get one,” she says. “The drone simulator was quite popular, especially with the school kids on the Friday, but we had quite a lot of landowners come with questions about CASA rules, utilising drones on-farm in their individual situations and even questions from people who had already purchased a drone but didn’t quite have the confidence to fly it yet.”

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Casey will continue the story of cotton and technology as she goes into schools as part of this year’s Art4Agriculture The Archibull Prize. Working with students from Oxley High School, Irrawang High School, Raymond Terrace Public School and Muswellbrook High she will help foster relationships between the community and the Cotton industry.

#WearCotton #WeloveCotton #ThisCottonPickingLife #YouthVoices18 #ArchieAction #YouthinAg

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