Technology helping farmers get better outcomes for the planet

This is the second in a two part series journalist Matt Da Silva has created with Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe to share how Australian farmers are using information and technology gains to move toward #NetZeroFarming.

“We are proud to be adopting new practices that are better for our environment and helping to demonstrate that there are other ways of doing things; and, in my role as an agronomist, sharing this knowledge and learning.”

Farm Overview

Business and/or property name: C & E Pastoral, Gleeson’s

Business partners: Emma Ayliffe and partner Craig and his family

Farm size: 1700 acres (688 hectares)

Farm locality/region: Burgooney, Lake Cargelligo (roughly northwest of Wagga Wagga, in the central west of New South Wales, about 550km from Sydney)

Topography: rolling hills, red loam

Rainfall: 360mm per year

Primary outputs: Wool, first cross lambs, grains (mainly wheat but also some oats, barley and canola)

Secondary outputs: If above average rainfall, may plant canola, chickpeas, mungbeans.

Drone technology allows Emma to map the weeds on the farm. A drone is sent up to find green areas indicating that weeds have started to grow.

Tristan Stevenson from StevTech launching the surveillance drone.

Weeds use moisture that might otherwise be used by crops, and they also harbour insects and disease, so it is important to minimise their occurrence. Sending a drone out with a camera attached that transmits a video of the fields lets us pinpoint the areas that need spraying and reduces the use of chemical sprays. The resulting data maps the weed population and allows us to turn it into a green area map.

This allows us to maintain the best ground cover, control our weeds, and reduce resistance risk.

The StevTech ute with the drone on the ground in front of it.

Weed mapping allows us to minimise our chemical costs by targeting the only areas in the paddock that have weeds. We can often look at using higher value chemistries that may be cost prohibitive if we had to spray it all. Only spraying when we have too also helps avoid chemical resistance.

The following two images shows weed cover of paddocks. In the first image, drone mapping produces a 95 percent saving of chemicals.

Thank you to SteveTech for image

In the second image, drone mapping produces an 83 percent saving of chemicals.

Thank you to SteveTech for the image

Data from the drone mapping is  sent to a computer in the spray rig allowing the rig operator to target chemicals to conform precisely to hotspots where weeds are specifically concentrated. The following image shows what is displayed in the spray rig during application of chemicals, the olive green circles on the screen are the weeds being sprayed. Learn more about broadacre cropping weed detection here

The great thing about this technology is that we can utilise the machinery and systems that we already have, so don’t have to spend a lot of money on new equipment.

Thank you Matt and Emma for these insights on how modern farmers are minimising their use of herbicides to get better outcomes for farmers, consumer and the planet. Read how Matt blogged Emma’s story here

Improving farming’s productive efficiency will enable farmers to produce the same quantity of food, or more, with less
inputs, in smarter ways. This, in turn, will enable the sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

We can all be part of the solution. The cost of food waste to the Australian economy is estimated to be around $20 billion each year. Australian consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of food—that’s close to 17,000 grounded 747 jumbo jets.

The impact of food waste also includes the energy, fuel and water used to grow food that may not be used. When food waste is sent to landfill, it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

To help address this important issue, the Australian Government committed in 2016 to develop a National Food Waste Strategy to establish a framework to support actions that work towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. This ambitious goal aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 for sustainable consumption and production patterns

Join the movement and Fight Food Waste 

#NetZeroFarming #TogetherWeCan #YouthinAg

 

Australian Farmers on a Mission to Achieve #NetZeroFarming

With advances in access to information and technology, knowledge isn’t just increasing. It’s increasing at an increasing rate. In 2011, you consumed about five times as much information per day as you would have just a quarter century earlier.

As of 1950, it took about fifty years for knowledge in medicine to double. By 1980, medical knowledge was doubling every seven years, 5 and by 2010, it was doubling in half that time. The accelerating pace of change means that we need to question our beliefs more readily than ever before. Source Adam Grant ‘Think Again”

Australian farmers are excited about the possibility of using the information and technology gains in the agriculture sector in the last 50 years to see if we can progress towards #NetZeroFarming. Agriculture is uniquely placed to be part of the climate solution, as both
an emissions source and a sink. As farmers we have a special responsibility to protect carbon reserves already in our soils
and vegetation. But we must and we can do more.

There is no single answer to this problem. To achieve our aim we will need a range of measures that fall under three broad
headings:
• Improving farming’s productive efficiency;
• Improving land management and changing land use to capture more carbon;
• Boosting renewable energy and the wider bio economy

Journalist Matt Da Silva is deeply interested in the journey our farmers are on and has reached out to our team to help them share their journey and help us explain it in a way that we can all understand

In this first part of a two part series Matt is working on with Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe we get an understanding of the knowledge and tools Emma and her partner Craig are using to progress to #NetZero on their farm

“Our vision involves capitalising on the resources we have in a marginal environment and finding the systems that best suit our landscape to ensure the farm is able to be productive and profitable well into the future.”

Farm Overview:

Business and/or property name: C & E Pastoral, Gleeson’s

Business partners: Emma Ayliffe and partner Craig and his family

Farm size: 1700 acres (688 hectares)

Farm locality/region: Burgooney, Lake Cargelligo (roughly northwest of Wagga Wagga, in the central west of New South Wales, about 550km from Sydney)

Topography: rolling hills, red loam

Rainfall: 360mm per year

Primary outputs: Wool, first cross lambs, grains (mainly wheat but also some oats, barley and canola)

Secondary outputs: If above average rainfall, may plant canola, chickpeas, mungbeans.

The farm is in a low rainfall production area with a tendency to have a “sharp” (i.e. hot and dry) finish to the year. Our growing season rainfall is only around 180mm, and to put that in perspective the average annual rainfall for NSW is 555mm/year and the high production areas of NSW such as Temora in North Eastern Riverina sit closer to 600mm/year.

Opportunity cropping (secondary outputs) depends on amount of moisture in the field, the market (some crops might have a higher price at any given time) as well as the time of year.

We’ve being making decisions around what we can do to improve the health of our soils. In our low rainfall environment ensuring that we have the soil structure to store moisture and support plant growth in the driest of times is critically important.

 Emma Ayliffe and Craig her partner, with dogs Millie and Dexter.

Everything we do is about trying new techniques and tools, based on research, in our environment so that we can always be improving, being better stewards for our environment and ensuring we can feed and clothe the world well into the future.

As a seed, a plant requires water, air, nutrients and heat for germination. Then to be able to maximise growth the plant needs a biologically active soil biota. This includes soil fungi and bacteria, which enables good soil structure and nutrient cycling, leading to optimum plant health. It is the interaction between all of these factors that determines how well plants and crops grow.

We are moving to a minimum till/strategic tillage system that means using knife-point press wheels. Minimum tillage means avoiding anything that causes major soil disturbance, hence the knife-point press wheel system. Strategic tillage is similar but allows for one significant soil disturbance pass no more than one year in eight. This strategy reduces erosion, conserves moisture, and maintains soil structure.

A knife point (see photo below) is narrower than a coulter but does the same job, only without disturbing the soil as much. The press wheel comes in behind the knife point and closes the furrow.

Research tells working the soil one year in eight is fine. It ensures that we are managing issues like compaction while maximising productivity and soil health. Compaction happens not only due to farming equipment but also due to cattle, which are brought into fields to feed on the stubble as well as on lost grain that has fallen on the earth during harvest. And soils are naturally hard setting.

In our environment ground cover is critical as we can never be sure if and when the next rain event is going to occur. Ground cover helps to reduce evaporation and erosion.

The photo below shows a moment during the 2020 harvest.

Thanks Matt for sharing Emma and Craig’s journey to #NetZeroFarming. Read how Matt blogged Emma’s story here

Like farmers we can all be part of the solution. The cost of food waste to the Australian economy is estimated to be around $20 billion each year. Australian consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of food—that’s close to 17,000 grounded 747 jumbo jets.

The impact of food waste also includes the energy, fuel and water used to grow food that may not be used. When food waste is sent to landfill, it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

To help address this important issue, the Australian Government committed in 2016 to develop a National Food Waste Strategy to establish a framework to support actions that work towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. This ambitious goal aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 for sustainable consumption and production patterns

Join the movement and Fight Food Waste 

#TogetherWeCan #NetZeroFarming

Announcing the finalists in Kreative Koalas 2020 Best Community Action Project

We are very excited to announce the judge of the 2020 Kreative Koalas Best Community Action Project Reports has announced his Top Five

See the Top Five here 

The Judge

Les Robinson is the author of Changeology. He’s an internationally acknowledge leading expert on the design of community change projects towards sustainability. His website is full of interesting resources: www.enablingchange.com.au

Overall Les says:

“I’m gobsmacked by the amazing creativity, energy and amount of work put into all the projects. These kids are brilliant creative koalas!”

Les shared with us why the Top 5 schools excelled

1) They thought strategically

They started with a big global problem, for example ‘hunger’. Then they logically drilled down to identify realistic actions students could really do to make a real difference in their school or community. And they backed the case with research, including data collection via surveys and audits.

2) They implemented substantial actions for change

Once they identified strategic actions, they followed through with real life efforts that touched many people.

For example:

Annangrove Public School: set up chickens, worm farm and composter; created a vegie garden, grew vegies and supplied them to Windsor Community Kitchen. They also established waste-free Wednesdays, and ran a school feast.

Medowie Christian School: created a kindergarten garden, ran a Foodway tin drive, and cooked up a whole school feast.

St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School: took a whole of school approach. They  started with a survey of what their students were passionate about – that’s a great way to start because everyone has a chance for input. Then they  chose not one, but three (!) projects. The steps for each project were logically set out so every team can see the strategy. And each project was implemented. The projects were hands-on, especially growing and cooking your own food – that’s the best kind of change-making, because you didn’t just ‘tell people why’, you ‘showed them how’.

St Marys North Public School: Created a bush food garden, and ran a nude food day that involved the whole school.

3) They were creative

They were fun, innovative and brought out students’ creativity.

For example:

Gardeners Road PS: ‘unplugged’ hour without power’ event, supported by a TV and poster campaign

4) They wrote clear reports that were easy and enjoyable to read

The winning schools wrote short, simple, eloquent reports that were a pleasure to read. They also followed the format (which means they remembered all the important pieces).

Annangrove PS stood out in this respect because they set out simple ‘theories of change’ that logically described the necessary ingredients to achieve each goal. This was impressive project planning.

For example:

Watch this space for the announcement of finalists in the 2020 Kreative Koalas artworks

Mega shout out to our partners who are empowering the #changemakers

Become a Kreative Koalas Changemaker School in 2021. Expressions of Interest forms can be accessed from our website here

The Archibull Prize is the perfect program to meet the wants and needs of schools, teachers and students

Achieving best outcomes for farmers, consumers and the planet requires building deep and lasting relationships with everyone from paddock to plate. Young people may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future and they are the perfect place to start

The Archibull Prize is an innovative and highly-successful project-based learning program designed to connect secondary school students with Australian agriculture and to empower these students to make changes for a better world. For over a decade the program has engaged students with Young Farming Champions to create a trusted partnership, which in 2021 will encapsulate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on environmental awareness through the lens of agriculture.

In recent evaluation surveys it has been shown 80% of participating schools align their Archibull project to the curriculum and use it for assessment tasks. A further 20% of participating schools align their Archibull project with pillars of their strategic plan for student growth, to build capacity of school leaders, to extend gifted and talented students and to engage with their community and businesses.

Kris Beazley is the principal of the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education -Richmond Agricultural College and looks forward to embarking on the 2021 Archibull journey with the school’s inaugural Year 7 AgSTEM specialty class.

“Our school plan links directly to partnered learning and transdisciplinary learning with an alignment to AgSTEM, sustainability, Aboriginal Knowledges and AgSTEM careers education. This program is a perfect fit,” Kris says.

The Archibull Prize will be embedded into the school’s curriculum and used as part of the assessment process.

“The program will be aligned to our transdisciplinary course: Applied Learning. The Year 7 focus in this course in Semester One will be Water and the World with a focus on peri urban water use. In Semester Two the focus will be Biotechnology. The Archie program will be integrated into our design thinking pedagogy. We will not only capture elements in our formative assessment, we will also utilise the program to facilitate student’s completion of our Capability framework for Year 7.”

Our world today is full of increasingly complex global issues like rising inequality, climate change, sustainability of resources and a rapidly changing economy, just to name a few. If we are to reverse the damage that has been done, and ensure a sustainable future for future generations, we need to act now.

We all have a role to play in helping Australia reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal targets. By participating in The Archibull Prize students will look at the Global Goals through the lens of agriculture and work with farmers to see how their local community can meet Australia’s commitment to the Global Goals.

These commitments can be best achieved when The Archibull Prize is aligned to school strategic plans, can be embedded into the curriculum and can be used as an assessment task.

Expressions of Interest to participate are now open here

#GlobalGoals #SDGs #ArchieAction2021  #YouthVoices2021

Mega shout out to our supporting partners empowering the changemakers

 

 

 

 

The Archibull Prize supporting young people to solve tomorrow’s problems today by aligning agriculture and the Global Goals

For over a decade The Archibull Prize and our Young Farming Champions have  been engaging teachers and students with Australian farmers and agriculture; providing the next generation with trusted voices and building long-lasting effective partnerships.

In 2021 this model is being extended to raise environmental awareness through the lens of agriculture by incorporating the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDG). It is a win-win model that will secure the best outcomes for farmers, consumers and the planet.

In 2021 The Archibull Prize will mirror the highly successful Kreative Koalas program with a strong focus on supporting and motivating young people to be aware of the impact of their choices, empowered to make informed decisions and inspired to act to create the future they want to see. By participating in The Archibull Prize students will look at SDGs through the lens of agriculture and work with farmers to see how their local community can meet Australia’s commitment to the Global Goals.

Schools will be able to use the Sustainability Circle concept to understand the challenges for farmers and draw inspiration from the Australian agricultural industries who have developed Sustainability Frameworks 

As an added bonus secondary schools students will be highly inspired by the Community Action Projects designed and delivered by our Kreative Koalas Kids 

The 17 SDGs were developed by the United Nations to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” Recognising that sustainability is an interconnected circle, the goals address issues such as hunger, energy and water use, consumption and production, equality and the power of partnerships.

Work by international and Australian voices has identified eight goals as priorities for agriculture. These are:

  • SDG 2: Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3: Good health and wellbeing
  • SDG 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 14: Life Below Water
  • SDG 15: Life on Land

Another three goals have been identified as aligned to the benefit of Australia’s rural sector. These are:

  • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Utilising the theme “Connect, Collaborate, Communicate” schools participating in the 2021 Archibull Prize will be tasked with tackling one of these SDGs by working with farmers to break down global problems into realistic and achievable actions on a local level in their schools and communities.

The Archibull Prize is a perfect partnership to bring together the wants and needs of students with the wants and needs of the Global Goals and get the best outcomes for farmers, consumers and the planet.

Find out how The Archibull Prize is designed and delivered to meet the wants and needs of schools, teachers and students here

Expressions of Interest to participate are now open here

#GlobalGoals #SDGs #ArchieAction2021  #YouthVoices2021