Meet Alexandria Galea who doesn’t mind a cotton tale or two or three

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Alexandria Galea doesn’t mind a yarn. She grew up on a cotton property in central Queensland and while she admits she didn’t have an instinct for farm work, she did develop a love of sharing stories from her farming background.

This love of sharing and storytelling led her to a degree in secondary school education.

“I was half way through my teaching degree when I realised I also wanted to study agriculture, and it greatly excited me to think of all the pathways I could take. Upon graduation I turned to the field to gain more experience and exposure to agriculture and was fortunate to be offered a role as a sales agronomist with Cotton Growers Services.”

Today we introduce you to the second of our 2018 Cotton Young Farming Champions Alexandria Galea

This is Alexandria’s story

For generations my family have been working on the land. The family tree has gotten its hands dirty in many fields starting in horticulture on the Mediterranean island Malta and dry land cropping in South Australia. Today some are growing sugar cane or rearing cattle. In the mix I have grown up in the Central Highlands of Queensland on my parent’s irrigation property where we grow cotton, grains and pulses.

Despite coming from these blood lines I never quite inherited the nature of the typical country girl. I blissfully ignored practicality and sun safety to rock getups that only the Spice Girls could pull off around irrigation ditches or cattle yards (at least I was easy to spot). Although I was never hard to find as you could hear me a mile away yelling for help when bogged or caught in such a good yarn with the calves that I’d walk straight into the backside of a cow.

Enough said farm work was not quite my strong point but I loved it. As I grew up I realised I had a passion for collaborating, sharing and learning with others, in particular youth, or what others would call an interest in talking the ears off somebody. With this in mind I set out to become a teacher.

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A passion for teaching and sharing a story led to an invitation to join the Young Farming Champions program 

Following high school I spent my time split between studying a Bachelor of Secondary Education and working in agricultural businesses. Working in agriculture started as a necessity to pay for the hefty bills of text books and late night educational excursions at university to become a real joy which I looked forward to. I got to experience a range of jobs from working with agronomists bug checking, accounting and supplying growers with products. Most importantly I got to have a good yarn with a diverse range of people within the industry.

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 Never a dull day in my office especially when you get stuck in the mud

I found this work very interesting and rewarding, it opened my eyes to the magnitude of careers in agriculture which are not locked within the boundary fence of a farm. For the first time I could see how I (the not so intuitive farm girl) could be involved in an industry so close to my heart. I enjoyed liaising with farmers, the mix of working in the field and in the office, understanding the science behind growing plants and the ability to see a range of crops across a vast area. I was half way through my teaching degree when I realised that I also wanted to be studying agriculture. This greatly excited me to think of all the pathways I could take. Upon graduation of university I had the opportunity to work in the classroom however I turned to the field to gain more experience and exposure to agriculture. I was fortunate to be able to take on a role as a sales agronomist with Cotton Growers Services.

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Working in agriculture is full of challenges to overcome in particular managing climate constraints.

In this role I had the pleasure of facilitating educational workshops at the Emerald Agricultural College to give students exposure to and broaden their knowledge of different types of crops, roles within farming and a range of technologies. In this space I am the most excited, it is a feeling of its own to open the eyes of another especially about farming.

My path in agriculture has only just began and I am very excited to see where my sparkling boots take me and for the yarns to be had! All are welcome to join.

Alex joined 2018 Cotton Young Farming Champions Sally Poole and Anika Molesworth at our first YFC workshop for 2018 in Tocal this month and it is clear she well make a great storyteller for cotton. Welcome Alex

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices18 #ArchieAction #StrongerTogether

 

Beam me up Emma – Cotton Australia’s Young Farming Champions stream live from the paddock to the classroom

Parramatta Public School (12).JPGCotton Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe visited Parramatta Public School in June 2018 

Take Skype, a laptop and an interactive whiteboard and Cotton Australia’s Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe, standing in a paddock of cotton stubble, was able to beam directly to Sydney school students sitting in a classroom.

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In July the classroom came to her via Skype

Emma is taking the story of cotton to Parramatta Public School as part of The Archibull Prize and with her live cross she showed students how technology such as moisture probes is used in the field and how data collected can be instantly uploaded. The paddock of stubble allowed her to ‘trash’ talk and explain the concept of crop rotation to 90 avid watchers.

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For teacher Esra Smerdon the experience brought a real-world connection to the classroom. “When we skyped with Emma she was able to show us how they used moisture probes to identify whether or not they needed to water and how they used that data to inform them,” she said. “Water is a very valuable natural resource that we need to take care of and while we don’t have moisture probes the kids are able to touch and feel the soil (in their school cotton crop) to ensure enough water is being given to the plant. Emma also put us onto the Day Degrees formula, which helps us work out the growth cycle of cotton, which we are growing in our greenhouse.”

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While Parramatta Public School has covered similar units in previous years Esra feels Emma’s presentation from the paddock helped to give the students a different perspective. “It was great to see the farmer’s point of view and what they do to ensure they have a successful crop. All these things we have been learning about has enhanced our kids understanding of what farmers go through and how climate change does affect us and why we need to be careful with biosecurity.”

And it seems Emma is having an influence on the career direction of students. “Emma is amazing,” Esra said, “and the kids absolutely love her enthusiasm. I think we have some students who now would like to be an agronomist because it looks really fun.”

#agronomist #thiscottonpickinglife #archieaction #youthvoices18 #wearcotton

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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.

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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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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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Local Land Services and Young Farming Champion Casey Onus collaborate at Tocal Field Day

 

Extending over three days in May the Tocal Field Days, held in the NSW Hunter Valley, are a premier event to showcase all that is new and exciting in agriculture, and in 2018 we were excited to see a collaboration between Hunter Local Land Services and Young Farming Champion Casey Onus, who together took the world of drones to the enthralled public.

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Casey Onus at Tocal Field Day answering landowners questions about CASA rules and  utilising drones on-farm in their individual situations 

“We set up a drone simulator on the big screen in the Hunter LLS 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,” Casey said. “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.”

Although Casey believes satellite imagery remains more economical for large-scale crops, she knows drones have multiple uses on the farm from stock scouting in rugged terrain to monitoring water troughs and weed populations. And they are fun to fly!

So popular was Casey’s demonstration that even Chair of Hunter Local Land Services Board Lindy Hyam, had a go at the simulator.

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Chair of Hunter Local Land Services Board Lindy Hyam and Casey Onus encouraging landholders to ask questions about using drones on farm and to have a go at flying before they make the investment to get one, 

“Hunter Local Land Services recognises that addressing innovation and utilising modern technology is a key challenge for many local farmers, and is keen to find practical solutions to help local producers improve their productivity and profitability,” Penny Evans from Hunter LLS said. “Casey and her drone simulator created quite a buzz at the Tocal Field Days and it showed there is demand from the local community to help them adapt new technologies to their needs.”

Hunter LLS and Casey will partner again in 2018 as they take The Archibull Prize into local schools to excite young people about the high level of technology in agriculture and inspire them to think about STEM career pathways in agriculture .

#youthinag #archieaction #youthvoices18

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Young Farming Champions taking the farm to the city

Last week our Young Farming Champions took the fresh young face of agriculture into schools  participating in The Archibull Prize in Sydney and Wollongong

Cotton Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe shared her career journey  with students and teachers at Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School, Parramatta Public School and Kurring-gai High School.

Emma had great success with her Name the Good Bugs/Bad Bugs game turning students with no previous experience into experts in 20 mins.

She found it very rewarding to hear from the teachers of  the Power of the Cow in Archibull Prize schools.

She took her hat off to the team at Parramatta Public School who have formed a partnership and are working directly with 90 students to complete the program

Horticulture Young Farming Champion Tayla Field supported by the Aussie Farmers Foundation took the story of fruit and veg into schools in the Eastern Suburbs and to Gywnneville Public School

With strong messages about eating fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet

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Students at Little Bay Community of Schools and Gwynneville Public School (below) embrace the concept of Eating a Rainbow of fruit and vegetables every day Gwynneville Public School

and the importance of traceability and biosecurity Tayla was a hit with the students

Tayla was thrilled to see the students eyes light up when she showed the level of technology available to farmers in the horticulture industry she loves

Wool Young Farming Champion Sam Wan had Wooley Dooley time with students at Picnic Point High School. Read all the fun here.

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Archie is up for Auction

The team at Art4Agriculture are all abuzz – spotted on Facebook two of our Reserve Grand Champion Archies up for auction at the 2018 Henry Lawson Festival 

Last seen on display in the Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries Office in Martin Place in Sydney where next will they be found next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thimbull and BullsEye Up for Auction

According to our source at the school after competing in the program for five years with great success the school has made the decision ( not lightly) to build on their success and spread the wonderful agricultural messages and themes on Thimbull (Cotton) and Bulleyes (Cattle) and generate some funds for the school. 

We agree . ‘What a great addition to any prime breeding herd!’

The Henry Lawson Festival seemed the perfect time to hold a dutch auction.

You will find the  Henry Lawson High School stand  in the main street of the festival.  Members of the public can register and leave a bid which will be displayed.  For example Bidder 21 – $100

Anyone not at the festival can put in a bid by contacting Ashley Kuhn on 0432 805 025

Bidding closes 9th June 2018 at 2.30pm

Here is your chance to grab a bovine masterpiece and share the story of agriculture far and wide

THLHS Beef

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This is what the judge had to say about Bulleyes

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and Thimbull

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#archieaction18 #youthvoices #archieauction

Please note: Transport Costs are at buyer own expense.

We are thrilled to announce that Bulleyes and Thimbull will be sharing the great stories of Australia agriculture with students at Grenfell Public School and a new pre school in Wagga

Well done team Henry Lawson

 

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