Today’s guest blog comes to you from Wool Young Farming Champion Stephanie Grills who frocked up as a guest of Australian Wool Innovation for the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards.
It was a privilege and an honour to attend the Farmer of The Year Awards 2012 held at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne, last Wednesday September 12, 2012 with my three fellow Wool Young Farming Champions. This opportunity was made possible by Australian Wool Innovation and I would like to extend my sincerest thankyou to them.
2012 Young Farming Ambassador Kathleen Allan and Champions Stephanie Grills, Lauren Crothers and Sammi Townsend
It was also such a privilege to be amongst a room of such high calibre producers from across the country as well as industry professionals. Not only were we in a room with these people but we were seated with them for the awards night. Over the course of the night I got to sit with a range of people, including John Webb Ware who is a Senior Consultant for the Mackinnon Project, the lovely Annie who has a background in genetics and Dubbo sheep producers and Wool Producer of the Year finalists, Don and Pam Mudford of Parkdale Merino Stud.
Don Mudford, along with his wife and sons, focus on breeding animals for both meat and wool characteristics on their 4200ha farm. Labour efficiency is a key driver in their operation, with a focus on easy care sheep. The management on farm and also farm facilities help to make this achievable. They have selected rams for their breeding values, focussing on eye muscle and fat depth.
It was also an honour to meet Daryl and Irene Croak from Oak Hills Merino Stud in the Central Tablelands. They are no stranger to awards in the Wool Industry, but said it was great to be a part of a night that wasn’t just focussed on Wool and were amazed at the diversity of Australian Farming. They also had the highest praise for the Young Farming Champions program.
Over the course of the night, it became quite evident that the industry is moving forward. Farmers are more sustainable and resourceful than ever before and it was said that “Innovation” is usually the stuff your neighbours think at the beginning, you’re crazy for trying and question if you haven’t lost your marbles! It is these innovative practices that have enabled Australian Agriculture to be at the top of the game.
Farmer of the Year 2012 winner and also Grain Grower of the Year winner, Peter Kuhlmann, farms 9000ha in possibly one of the most difficult regions of the country, just east of Ceduna, South Australia. With just 291mm average of rainfall per year, Mr Kuhlmann has to balance timing of seeding, weed control and water use efficiency, knowing all too well the phrase ‘that every drop counts’. He describes himself as an innovator and is often amongst the first to adopt new technologies and on farm trials to evaluate them.
It was also very inspiring to listen to the Young Farmer and Farming Woman of the Year finalists and winners. If the night was any indication of what lies ahead, Australian Agriculture has a very bright future.