The legacy of the Young Farming Champions program is to create an Australia wide network of enthusiastic young professionals and build their capacity to promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry. The Young Farming Champions challenge is to BE the change that needs to occur. So you can imagine how excited I was when I got this post from Sam Adams and saw this.
“Wool certainly has been a big part of my life, and will continue to be into the future. To be able to share the wonders of wool with others is more than exciting, its a privilege that all growers should embrace and encourage”.
I salute you Sam I couldn’t have said it better myself
Read this exciting young wool producer’s story here ……….
My name is Sam Adams, and no, I do not own a brewery. I do however possess a love for quality Merino wool.
I grew up on a farm at Armidale, in NSW. Traditionally our area has been the home of golden bales, of some incredible wool and is a recognised superfine wool stronghold.
Today, Australia enjoys a global reputation as one of the most scientifically advanced wool growing countries in the world. Australian Merino is regarded by many as the finest and softest wool produced globally. Australia is the global “home of Merino”, supplying over 80% of the world’s Merino wool for apparel.
The Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir was an elite celebrity among the elite flock for the final judging of the 67th annual Armidale Housed Merino Show .
Our region also hosts the iconic New England Wool Expo each year.
Whilst wool production still has a large prominence in the area, due to new markets and changing trends cattle can now been seen grazing large areas of improved ryegrass pastures on what was once a paddock of native grasses with the occasional single super.
To quote Bob Dylan’s famous words The times they are a Changin’,
It is not just the animals in the landscape that are changing either with coal mines now having a heavy presence
A changed landscape in the Hunter Valley, once grazing land now a coal mine.
From my observations, not only are sheep becoming less abundant in the New England, but also the mighty Merino is slowly disappearing amidst numerous crosses to the increasingly popular meat and dual-purpose sheep. I find this somewhat disappointing; I believe there is still an important place for the Merino and its magnificent and elegant fibre.
Who I am
Along with my younger brother, I am the third generation on our 1,417 hectare property. My grandparents bought the farm when independence forced them from their Copra plantations in New Guinea in the late 1970’s. Neighbouring paddocks and farms were acquired, and added to the original purchase.
My father and his three siblings were fortunate,in that they had a very wise and humble education from Kevin, a farm worker and subsequent mentor. I was only 10 or so when Kevin retired, and I now wish I had been able to spend many more years under his tutelage. Strongly embedded in dad’s work ethic are the values and lessons taught by Kevin in his 30 or so years working alongside him, lessons that have been passed on to me, of which I am very grateful.
Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are of spending time in the woolshed, laughing at the stories the shearers told, or admiring the bales as they stacked up behind the press. The bus trip home from school seemed to get longer each day as I anticipated alighting from the bus and rushing to the shearing shed still in my school uniform.
I completed my schooling in 2009, graduating from The Armidale School, with a head full of ideas and enthusiasm. During my senior school years, I was fortunate enough to take part in the PICSEprogram, making some valuable friends and turning the light on to the opportunities in agricultural research and development that were open to me
In my final year, I was lucky to have been Senior Prefect, Shooting Captain and the school’s cadet unit SUO. Positions that I believe have had a strong influence in shaping who I am today.
I worked alongside Dad for the most part of my gap year and also ventured to work at farms at Dongara WA and Moree NSW for two month intervals.
PICSE coordinator, Susanna Greig, suggested I apply for a Horizon Scholarshipwhich is supporting my degree at the University of Queensland, where I am now in my second year.
My degree – a Bachelor of Plant Science – will allow me to become an agronomist . Lately the farm has been calling and my goals have shifted slightly, and I am keen to get more hands on and see the value of returning to the farm and working alongside my father to continue to produce fine wool, lamb and beef.
High performance pasture planted at Swallowfield for steer backgrounding and fat lamb production. Such pastures are a common sight across the New England
We have reduced our sheep numbers significantly in recent years due to declining returns. From a flock of around 4000, only 800 now remain. I am very keen to expand our flock, and better utilise the available land, and achieve efficiency gains in conjunction with the cattle enterprise. The Merino offers great diversity to any business, not only with wool production, but also a strong market for lamb and even cast for age ewes.
Having completed a course in Business Management as a part of my studies, I decided to create a hypothetical business plan, focussing on wool production. Much to my delight I had the chance to share this with some helpful people from Agribusiness at Suncorp just recently, and have been given some useful feedback, and I am looking forward to exploring it further and hopefully putting it into practice.
I see wool as a wonderful fibre that ticks all the right boxes. Not only is it renewable, but also it requires little water, synthetic fertiliser input or other artificial inputs. I have seen graziers within the New England whom have adopted a strict rotation program, and as a result have not drenched for internal parasites for over 12 months. We abandoned mulesing in the mid 2000’s, and have noticed little to no difference in flystrike prevalence, and this has been a very rewarding experience
The stencil used to proudly brand our wool.
From my understanding, wool has so much potential in the road ahead. The advent of products such as the ‘MerinoPerformTM’ range has opened a new market for the product. The MerinoPerformTM Advantage for example is a range of bicomponent fabrics with unique temperature regulation and vapour management properties, keeping athletes cooler and drier when exercising. These fabrics combine the unique high-performance
benefits of Merino fibres with synthetics in a bi-component structure. They are knitted fabrics with the inside component made from 19.5 micron or finer Merino, which comprises at least 20 per cent of the fabric. The outside component of the fabric is made from hydrophilic synthetic fibres.
Wool certainly has been a big part of my life, and will continue to be into the future. To be able to share the wonders of wool with others is more than exciting, its a privilege that all growers should embrace and encourage.