Today we would like to introduce you to Tegan Nock our latest addition to the Young Farming Champions program. Tegan is a beef farmer and is sponsored by NSW Farmers.
Tegan heads up the NSW Farmers Young Farmers’ Council and we recently shared her inspirational speech at the NSW Farmers conference with you here. Tegan is just one of a group of young people who are galvanising Youth In Ag and debunking the myth that young people don’t want to farm
This is Tegan’s story ………..
Can you guess what all of these people have in common? Yup, you got it. They’re all farmers. Farmers who are working towards improving their farming methods in the name of sustainability.
Be it an Indian farmer in the Punjab using alternate wetting and drying (AWD) irrigation techniques to decrease the amount of water they have to pump out of the water table, an Indonesian farmer in Malang aiming to use less pesticides to avoid plant resistance and chemical run-off, or a Vietnamese farmer in the Mekong delta region using permaculture to minimise waste, you will be hard-pressed to find a farmer who is not working to improve the way they farm.
There are a host of different reasons farmers across the world are doing this; for the good of the environment, for the health of their plants and animals, for economic advantage, for the good of their community or to make practices easier for the next generation of farmers on their land, but if you ask any one of them the reason why they are putting in all this effort to review the way they farm, it is because sustainability is the lifeblood of any good farming business.
My family and I are farmers in the central west of NSW. We farm 7000 acres, where we grow mostly wheat and barley, occasionally canola, and run a commercial herd of angus cattle.
I was born with farming in my blood. My Grandmother bought her first cow when she was 15 and my father has been a full-time farmer since he was 14. In keeping with this tradition, I established a cattle business at the age of 17, while still in high school.
On my farm, we are constantly questioning how we can do things better. We have a strong focus on conservation farming, using zero tillage cropping for over a decade. My father’s philosophy on farming is that there are many factors contributing to the success of a farming business, but the most important is that the land be left in a better condition than when you found it. Thanks to this philosophy, we have changed our farming practices to ensure the longevity of our land.
Currently on our farm:
- We use Control Traffic Farming, meaning we only drive over set tracks on our paddocks to stop compaction
- We cell graze, which is where paddocks are divided up into smaller paddocks to manage grazing better
- We power all our infrastructure (houses, sheds, workshops, electric fences) using solar energy
- We select cattle for their feed conversion efficiency, which is their ability to convert the what they eat into steak potential as efficiently as they can
- We keep areas of the farm free of stock or crops to encourage native flora and fauna populations
After I finished high school, I went to uni to study an Ag Science degree to learn how to keep improving the way we run our farm.
Doing an Ag degree at uni opened so many doors for me. There are a huge number of programs available to Ag students that let you get an insight into how the whole industry works.
In no time I found myself standing in a giant cool room learning about meat cuts and quality, or in a canola paddock learning about crop pests and diseases. I even ended up in rice paddies in Punjab, the major rice growing region in India, discussing water conservation with the local farmers!
I quickly became involved in NSW Young Farmers, a group within the NSW Farmers Association which acts to advocate for the interest of young people in the Agricultural industry, both on a political platform, and in the wider community. NSW Young Farmers also holds events across the state, to allow members to learn about on-farm production, new technology or how political lobbying works.
I believe that it is so important for agriculture to have a voice when it comes to political decisions, especially from the young people involved in the industry. It is our opportunity to shape the future of our businesses, landscapes and communities in rural and regional Australia.
I now act as the chair of the NSW Young Farmers Council, and get to spend time traveling around the state meeting other young people in Ag, talking to politicians, adding to policy documents, planning events and promoting careers in Agriculture. And this just what I do in my spare time!
I love the flexibility that agriculture offers me, and the diversity of what I do from week to week and day to day. On the farm I am able to take on so many roles from the management and planning of enterprises, to the marketing of produce, to planting of crops and doing stock work.
I get to combine my love of the land with science, technology and business, and have so much fun in the process!
By the way Tegan also is quite a talented country music singer and has performed at various university events whilst studying Ag Science at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. You can to her sing on this video