Shining the spotlight on Lake Cargelligo Central School a little school doing big things

Continuing our series of shaing stories about the schools we work with going above and beyond today we shine the spotlight on Lake Cargelligo Central School. 

The cost of freight is a serious limiting factor to how far and wide we can take The Archibull Prize. This year two school communities in rural NSW came together to fund their local schools participation in the program. One of these is Lake Cargelligo Central School which has a strong focus on agricultural education

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With the cost of freight being a limiting factor the Lake Cargelligo community came together to fund the transport of Archie to their local school

Pigs and grains are the focus of two projects students from Years 9 and 10 at Lake Cargelligo Central School are undertaking this year to increase their emphasis on agricultural education. Pigs will be the feature of a paddock to plate project while the students will study the grain industry in The Archibull Prize.

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One of the first thing the secondary students did was introduce Archie to the kinders

“Our school is located in regional/remote NSW and the majority of our students have some connection to agriculture through their family,” agriculture teacher Tara-Jane Ireland says. “We run an agriculture show team that focuses on all enterprises we can access (chooks, sheep and cattle) and we source animals from local breeders to build connections with the community.”

In the paddock to plate project students will raise, show and process two pigs (Peppa and George) and then combine with food technology students to create menus for the table. Read more about Peppa, George and the rest of the team here.

Like The Archibull Prize, the pig paddock to plate event is an example of project-based learning. “Project-based learning has become an integral part of our teaching practices at LCCS to enhance the engagement of our students,” Tara-Jane says. “In 7/8 all our classes complete learning through PBL and teachers are now expanding this to 9/10. This allows our students to develop essential life skills like leadership, communication and problem solving.”

Twenty students will participate in The Archibull Prize. They are looking forward to not only connecting with students from other Archibull schools, but with a local artist and their Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe, who they are hoping can assist them develop career goals and aspirations.

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“Our aim is to focus on holistic approaches to agriculture while having fun,” Tara-Jane says, “and to help students lead healthy lifestyles by producing their food sustainably now and in the future.”

#ArchieAction #YouthinAg #YouthVoices19

Emotional Win for Agronomist of the Year Casey Onus

Young Farming Champion YFC Casey Onus has been named the Australian Summer Grains 2019 Agronomist of the Year, winning the Zoe McInnes Memorial Award at the annual conference held on the Gold Coast during July. Zoe was a young and well-respected agronomist who was tragically killed in a farming accident in 2013.

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 Casey Onus (centre) with AHRI northern extension agronomist Paul McIntosh and Zoe’s mother Kaz McInnes at the awards night. Source

The Zoe McInnes Memorial recognises outstanding contribution to agronomic excellence in Australia. Casey was nominated alongside senior agronomists with years of experience, proving age is no barrier to the exceptional service she offers to clients.

“I think often as young agronomists we don’t feel as though we have been around long enough to make an impact in our clients’ business and the greater agricultural industry. So to receive recognition like this is great feedback that perhaps we are on the right track and delivering real value.”  she says.

Casey felt it was a huge honour to be nominated for this award and a big surprise to win, yet beyond the accolades the award has personal meaning.

“I knew Zoe when I worked with Landmark and she was the sort of agronomist to whom we should all aspire. She was passionate, driven, she never took no for an answer and she would have a go at anything.”

These are traits shared by Casey and it is obvious she has learnt well from her role-model.

The award comes with a $5000 bursary.

“I  would like to use the bursary to follow my passion for precision agriculture and traceability throughout the entire grain supply chain.”

Casey is well known for her determination to introduce technology to growers, whether that is by utilising big data collected on farms or contracting drones to check crops for pests.

“I want to employ that technology to develop a paddock to plate process for grains, so the bursary may help me find someone working in this space who I can learn from. I’d like to find someone like Zoe.”

Casey joined the Young Farming Champions program in 2015. We are thrilled to have role model of her calibre advocating and inspiring pride in Australian agriculture

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#Youthinag #YouthVoices19 #StrongerTogether

 

 

Young Farming Champion Muster July 2019 Second Edition

This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions (YFC) around the country and globe. 

First stop on our round the world tour of YFC this week is the tiny town of Tocal, NSW, where dozens of YFC and Kreative Koala teachers gathered for our first 2019 Workshop.   

It’s over to Wool YFC Chloe Dutschke and Horticulture YFC Tayla Field for a workshop recap of the alumni stream: 

Our workshop weekend kicked off with a dinner Friday night with a chance for Alumni YFC to catch up and to meet the 2019 intake of YFC and Kreative Koalas teachers.

Saturday started with a brainstorming session including how we can make the most of our program and to showcase Agriculture to the best of our abilities. This involved reviewing, gathering, implementing and analysis of our social media. We have many new ideas and cannot wait to bring them to life.

Josh Farr from Campus Consultancy is our new Alumni workshop facilitator and has brought an engaging energy to the program. We discussed the six needs of life that all of our decisions can be linked back to: Certainty, Variety, Connection, Significance, Growth and Contribution. We used them to understand our motives in situations and to recognize our needs in determining our own personal goals.

Our goal setting session was very rewarding with many of our YFC Alumni beginning to define goals for their own lives using the SMART goal setting rubric whilst also addressing and overcoming problems which can lead to our goals not being actioned.

Tocal College Workshop

Saturday’s program was also filled with a session on the sustainability circle conducted by Greg Mills, which showcased five of our YFC Alumni sharing with teachers participating in Kreative Koalas how their role meets the sustainability circle in their work. This was a great opportunity for teachers and Alumni to learn together.

We concluded Saturday with a dinner inviting special guests including Tracey Norman, Mayor of Dungog Council, Lindy Hyam, Chair of Hunter LLS, Jane Llyod Jones, School Engagement Officer at Hunter LLS as well as Julie White and Jo Hathaway from Tocal College. We left the dinner truly inspired after speeches from Lindy Hyam, Youth Voices Leadership Team vice-chair Emma Ayliffe and Josh Farr.

Listen to Emma’s dinner speech here:

Listen to Josh’s speech here:

 

Our workshop concluded on Sunday but not before YFC had a sustainability session debrief with Greg Mills, reiterating the importance of a good presentation and the use of three key messages and understanding the story we are trying to tell.

Josh once again captivated the YFC Alumni and took us on a journey to understand Emotional Intelligence and our belief system. We were challenged in this session to become vulnerable and delve deep into ourselves to find our beliefs and recognise how they affect our everyday lives. This session was very emotive for all our Alumni recognising how negative self beliefs can shape the way we think about situations and define experiences we have had.

This workshop was by far the best workshop I have attended, it was emotive, engaging, challenging with lots of new information learnt. Thank you very much to the Alumni, new YFC, Teachers and facilitators for a fantastic weekend.

Thank you for a brilliant recap Chloe and Tayla! 

In the Field

Wool YFC and Elders Wool Technician and Auctioneer Sam Wan has achieved a selling centre trifecta: Auctioneering the Elders Wool Fremantle offering means that she has now sold at all three wool selling centres in Australia!

This career highlight comes on the back of Sam’s two week study tour to Italy as part of the award for Elders “Thomas Elder” Employee of the Year. 

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Wool YFC Samantha Wan:  Starting in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, the city of Biella became the center of the textile business because of its geographical features. Written documents prove that wool workers and weavers have been active in the region since 1245. It’s known as the ‘Wool City’, as it’s where the best wool mills in Italy are gathered and the most high quality woolen fabrics are weaved.

The water from the area is particularly hard due to its Alpine beginnings. As water runs down from the Piedmont mountains into the Biellese region, it picks up elements of the mineral formations it erodes along the way. The resulting hard water, which is particularly valuable for finishing fabrics, helped to distinguish the local fabrics and aided Biella’s ascent to the top of the world of wool.

 

  • Verrone, combing mill to see how the greasy wool begins the journey in ItalySam Wan Wool 1
  • Botto Giuesseppie, iconic fabric mill – one of the three ‘Royals’ of BiellaSam Wan Wool 5
  • Tollegno 1900 SPA, mainly a worsted fabric producer, producing 4.5million metres of fabric each year, in over 5000 variationsSam Wan Wool 4
  • Fratelli Piacenza SPA, woollen mill specialising in the Noble Fibres (superfine merino, cashmere, yak)Sam Wan Wool 2
  • Marzotto, spinning and weaving factory in Valdagno

 

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Simply incredible to see how the wool fibres are nurtured to create garments. 

Fascinating stop overs at Parma ham factory and sheep cheese dairy how they carve a niche for their products.

AWI/The Woolmark Company Milan office to hear of the latest collaborations and the Italian perspective on wool in today’s fashion

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While wool is always the highlight, the tour also took me to iconic sights and experiences such as a gondola ride in Venice, the ruins of Pompeii (highschool dream fulfilled!), the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain, Florentine steak, the Colosseum and so many more!

Most people bring back trinket souvenirs, I’ve brought back a healthy appreciation of coffee and a bit of an espresso habit!

Out of the field

One of our newest YFCs from the University of New England, Becca George, has attended 3 conferences/ workshops across three countries in the past three weeks! “The 24th-26th of June I attended the IFAMA conference in Hangzhou China, then after landing in Sydney from Vietnam I went straight to the YFC workshop & then on the 8th-9th of July I was at the Australian Summer Grains Conference on the Gold Coast! No rest for the wicked or a YFC 😋” Becca says. Look back through our posts on Picture You in Agriculture to see more highlights of Becca’s trip. 

Becca George

Wool YFC and Peter Westblade Memorial Scholarship winner Chloe Dutschke recently attended the Intercollegiate Meat Judging competition careers expo, talking to students about her experience in agriculture so far and about the Peter Westblade Scholarship. “My highlight was seeing a record number of 45 companies attend the expo supporting youth heading into ag and the red meat industry. There were a record number of companies with graduate positions, so great to see them investing in the next generation of ag,” Chloe says. “It was also fantastic talking to students who are willing to do the tough jobs, start at the bottom and work their way up, to create innovation and showcase our ag industry.”

Chloe D Meat Judging

Eggs and Poultry YFC and YVLT Communication Sub Committee member Jasmine Whitten has had a busy week attending conferences and workshops across NSW. 

“I went to the GrasslandsNSW conference, where I heard Greg Mills speak on social licence and also got to catch up with (Wool YFC)  Katherine Bain. The conference covered so much, from how to build more profitable grazing businesses, to how producers are managing the drought building more profitable agricultural businesses.”

Kath Jas and Greg

“I was also at the Bank Ready workshop which is part of the young farmer business program run by NSW DPI. The event had a great representation of people from lawyers, accountants, bankers and of course young farmers. My brother works on our family farm and he walked away inspired that there were options for young people to get into farming. These events are worth getting to if they are run in your region,” Jas says. 

Jas Rabo Bank workshop

Jas topped off her week by attending the YFC Workshop in Tocal, and is this week heading to the GRDC event at Spring Ridge, “Dealing with the Dry: farm management options during and after the drought.” Say G’day if you spot her! 

Prime Cuts 

Huge congratulations to YFC and agronomist Casey Onus who was named Agronomist of the Year at the 2019  Summer Grains Conference on the Gold Coast last week. We are so proud of you Casey, well done! 

Casey Onus

“The 26-year-old B&W Rural agronomist beat out experienced agronomists from around the country, including fellow Moree agronomist Tony Lockrey who was named runner-up, to win the Zoe McInnes Memorial Award which recognises outstanding contribution to agronomic excellence by an agronomist.” Read more in the Moree Champion here.

Congrats to Youth Voices Leadership Team Chair and dairy geneticist Dr Jo Newton on her awesome op-ed “Forging an agricultural leadership path” published on Farm Online last week. 

Jo Newton Farm Online Story
Jo writes, ‘’Leaders aren’t born overnight. Leadership needs to be viewed by our sector as an on-going journey.
We need to come together as an industry and put more structure behind the development of our future leaders. We need to offer them support from all angles and respond to what they say they need next.
If we stop reinventing the wheel and started putting four-wheels on the cart, we can travel in the right direction, together.
For our sustainable future, experienced leaders and emerging leaders need to work together. The emerging need to be brave: step up, get involved, take a chance.
The experienced need to reach back down and pull us up.
By working together, we can ensure that our leadership journeys don’t end when the industry event does.” 

Well said Jo! Read the full story on Farm Online here.

Well done to Picture You in Agriculture YFC Alana Black on her opinion piece published in The Land this week titled, “We need to be proactive in telling farm stories.” 

Alana The Land July 2019

“In order to stop decline of rural economies, we need to recognise it isn’t purely a geographical issue, and to ensure their strong continuation we need urban consumers to buy into regional communities,” writes Alana. Read the full story here. 

YVLT Vice-Chair Emma Ayliffe is inspiring us all this week with her optimism and vision. Emma was showcased on australianleadership.com 

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Congratulations and a huge Thank You to friend of the PYIA programs Greg Mills who was recently thanked for his long-term contribution and support of our YFC with the presentation of a Champion of Champions award.  No one deserves it more than you Greg, thank you! Watch here:

Lifetime Highlights 

Wool YFC Lucy Collingridge made is back from the Arctic Circle in time to attend the Tocal Workshop. We were excited to hear about the rest of her incredible adventure: 

Lucy Collingridge

“I headed to Norway and Denmark for a holiday. Most of my time was spent on a ship touring the western coast of Svalbard. I visited the worlds most northern town (Ny Alesund), saw a polar bear and reindeer, kayaked around some massive glaciers, went for a dip surrounded by icebergs and pack ice as it was snowing, and learned heaps about the amazing animals of the Arctic – did you know the Arctic Tern travels from the Arctic to Antarctica and back each year?! The really cool (pun intended) part of the trip was that it was a reunion of friends made on a trip to Antarctica two years ago – 20 of us “Epic Antarcticans” who were all on a Love Your Sister fundraising trip to Antarctica made the trip north for this Arctic adventure! “Places We Go” were on board to film the trip so that episode of the show will hopefully be out later this year.” We can’t wait to watch it Lucy! 

Lucy Collingridge Kayaking

Climate YFC and western NSW farmer Anika Molesworth is fundraising for her journey to Antarctica later this year where she will work closely with women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) from around the world on matters that affect the sustainability of our planet. Anika’s journey is part of her 12 month Homeward Bound leadership program and her campaign for support to get to her to Antarctica can be found here: chuffed.org/project/farmer-in-antarctica 

Anika Antarctic

 

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices19 #KreativeKoalas 

How a career in plant breeding has led Rebecca Thistlethwaite to find love and compassion for people across the globe

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The roles of plant researcher and humanitarian may seem worlds apart but Dr Rebecca Thistlethwaite is discovering her agricultural career is leading her to a greater understanding, and compassion, for people from all walks of life.

Rebecca is as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate for The University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute based in Narrabri in northern NSW. Her work involves studying the relationships between heat, nutrition and yield in wheat and other crops.

Dr Rebecca Thistlethwaite in Pakistan (4)

In 2018 Rebecca travelled to a farming community in Uganda on a Rotary Group Study Scholarship. She lived with villagers for a month to experience first-hand the challenges they had producing food, and designed ways in which that could be improved in the future.

“It was an incredibly humbling experience to live with people who had so little yet who were exceptionally generous and who opened up their homes and their hearts for me,” Rebecca says.  “The food was so fresh and delicious! Goat meat was particularly common and my hosts were really surprised that Australia is the largest exporter of goat meat yet we rarely (if ever) consume it ourselves. I made some lifelong friendships and I will most certainly be going back.”

Rebecca again found herself overseas this year when she was invited to speak about her plant breeding work at the Aus-Pak Conference for Food Security in Pakistan. She spent time with research teams, in particular students, and early career researchers from the Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University of Agriculture, one of Pakistan’s newest universities in the city of Multan, just over 500km south of the country’s capital, Islamabad. As she was the only female on the delegation and not of Muslim faith she faced the trip with some trepidation.

Dr Rebecca Thistlethwaite in Pakistan (2)

“I shouldn’t have worried at all though,” she says. “The Pakistani people I met were incredibly kind and accepting. I was treated like royalty the entire time, presented with gifts and flowers on many occasions, had traditional Punjabi dress and shoes made for me and the Vice-Chancellor even had a tree planted in my honour.”

Dr Rebecca Thistlethwaite in Pakistan (1)

Apart from conference responsibilities the aim of Rebecca’s delegation to Pakistan was to build collaborations to help with the country’s food security efforts and to implement the use of Australian technologies and systems to improve and future proof their research capabilities.

“One of the absolute highlights for me was getting to talk all things culture and religion with many very open-minded men and women of varying ages. In particular, I had fantastic discussions about the challenges surrounding women’s education and career development which is such a passion of mine both in developing countries and in the western society.”

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“Pakistan has suffered from political unrest and religious extremism for many years but they are still an incredibly proud people who only want the best for their country. The trip taught me that kindness comes in many and varied forms and that being different from someone else is not necessarily a bad thing. The world would be a much happier place if we were more respectful of other people’s differences, owned our own individuality and realised that the world would be a very boring place if everyone was exactly the same.”

Find out more about the world of work in agriculture. Visit our website here

#YouthinAgVoices #StrongerTogether

Young Farming Champion Calum Watt advancing the WA Grains Industry

“I am passionate about plant breeding because it is the most efficient means by which to improve the productivity and sustainability of plant production and I want to use my passion to address world issues, such as malnutrition.”

CalumW_Photo.jpg Young Farming Champion Calum Watt is kicking big goals in Western Australia as he researches better breeds of barley at Murdoch University in Perth, and a recently announced $25,000 grant from the Council of Grain Grower Organisations Ltd (COGGO) Research Fund will aid his PhD studies aiming to increase barley yield under future predicted temperature increases.

Established in 2000, the purpose of the COGGO Research Fund is to invest in innovative new research and development projects from across the whole supply chain. “The money will essentially go to paying for glasshouse trials and undertaking genetic studies in the lab,” Calum says. “This project, if fully realised, has large economic potential.”

Calum is the first to realise economics plays only one part of the sustainability circle that is agriculture and his research will address a range of issues that must be balanced and managed by farmers.

“Through genetics and breeding we can develop varieties that use fertiliser more efficiently and increase pathogen resistance resulting in less fungicide and insecticide use,” he says. “Plant breeding can also result in greater water use efficiency (more crop per drop) and higher quality produce through biofortification (improving nutritional content).”

It is for reasons such as these that COGGO was attracted to Calum’s work.

“COGGO is privileged to be able to fund these valuable research projects for the advancement and improvement of the Western Australia grains industry”, Mr Rhys Turton, COGGO Chairman, says. “We have a long history of providing catalytic funding for new R&D ideas and have seen many past recipients make a significant impact on returns for Western Australian grain growers.”

Away from university Calum is making a mark on national and international levels presenting at barley conferences in Perth and Latvia this year and attending a statistics workshop in Bangkok. Both these overseas experiences have been funded by a postgraduate research scholarship. He has also been nominated by his university to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Kuala Lumpur in August.

In 2018 Calum represented agriculture in the Western Australian Young Achievers Awards, reaching the semi-final stages.

“What I realise from events such as these is ultimately how small our industry is yet how much recognition we can achieve,” he says. “It’s a great networking event and it’s really the only type of awards night of this calibre over our way for youth in agriculture.”

Calum’s career will be one to watch as he endeavours to use his research for the greater good.

Calum Watt

“I am passionate about plant breeding because it is the most efficient means by which to improve the productivity and sustainability of plant production and I want to use my passion to address world issues, such as malnutrition.”

 

Young Farming Champions Muster February 2019 1st Edition

This week our Young Farming Champions (YFC) would like to take a moment to extend our thoughts and well wishes to those farmers in Queensland currently affected by devastating widespread flooding. To our North Queensland cousins, we are thinking of you! #StrongerTogether

This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions around the country (and globe!)

In the Field

Happy International Women in Science Day!

Our Young Farming Champion network is full of legendary women using science to make the world a safer, healthier, more abundant place for humans and animals to live. Today Picture You in Agriculture is celebrating them and their vital work with this video starring YFCs Lucy Collingridge, Danila Marini, Alexandrea Galea, Anika Molesworth, Jo Newton and Dione Howard. Wonderful work from wonderful women! #WomeninScience #InternationalWomeninScienceDay #WomeninSTEM

Wool YFC Bessie Thomas made headlines in the Rural Weekly this fortnight with a joyful story following her family’s journey through the last two years of drought. Bessie, her husband and their almost three-year-old daughter farm merinos in far-western NSW. She has received much kind feedback following the story and wanted to thank everyone for their ongoing support through the drought. Read the story here.

Bessie Sparks of Joy

Out of the Field

Congrats to YFC Bron Roberts who has just launched her new business venture B R Rural Business offering tailored management solutions for productive beef enterprises. Bron says, “I’m passionate about the beef industry and helping producers to be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. If you or anyone you know need a hand keeping records and want to use them to make real decision to improve your livestock productivity then I’m your girl!’ You can support Bron in her venture on Facebook here

Bron new business

Youth Voices Leadership Team Mentor Leader and Local Lands Service vet Dione Howard spoke to NSW Country Hour late last month. Listen in here from 11min35sec to hear Dione outline the risks of livestock eating toxic weeds causing liver damage. Great job Dione!

Beef YFC Kirsty McCormack, who’s currently living and working in Canada, was spotted in this case study by Rural RDC.

Kirsty McCormack

YFC Tim Eyes and his partner Hannah, who run The Food Farm on the NSW Central Coast, recently joined Nationals candidate for Gilmore, Katrina Hodgkinson in judging the 2019 Kiama Showgirl. Well done Tim and Hannah!

KatrinaTim Eyes Showgirl judge

Tim will also be returning to the Sydney Royal Easter show this April. Tim was over the moon when he got the call from the RAS of NSW in 2017 inviting him to be the farmer the glamping participants get to share the campfire experience with over the 14 days of the show. He so looking forward to inspiring the lucky glampers to be as excited about the agriculture sector as he is again in 2019. Read all about it here.

Cotton YFC Martin Murray was profiled on NSW Young Farmers Facebook page this week for his role on the Young Farmer Council. Great read Martin!

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“I’m an agronomist working for a group called AMPS, we’re an independent agchem reseller with a very strong focus on on-farm research to improve grower outcomes. I work with our research team in the running of our trials and our growers to transfer our research findings into on farm results to further strengthen their businesses. “I joined NSW Farmers in 2015 as they are able to effectively represent the farmers of NSW, taking their thoughts and concerns to parliament. I also joined the Young Farmer Council so I could be proactive in representing the interests and concerns of young people in or entering agriculture. “There are two major ways we can give young farmers a hand up going into the 2019 state election. First, stamp duty relief will remove the significant disadvantage in relation to other first home buyers, because we can’t currently access the exemptions offered to young city residents purchasing homes zoned as residential. Second, we can help lift the productivity of our farm businesses through investing in our farmers’ digital, financial and risk management skills.”

Prime Cuts

Our Youth Voices Leadership Vice-Chair Emma Ayliffe is an invited speaker at the 2019 Australian Summer Grains Conference. Em’s been invited to talk on ‘Careers in Grain’  in the student forum. You can find our more detail about the program and register to attend here.

Emma is also jetting off to Israel shortly as part of her prize for winning Runner Up in the ADAMA Agronimist of the Year awards. Safe and happy travels Emma! We’re looking forward to hearing all about it.

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Sticking with the conference theme, Youth Voices Leadership Team Chair Jo Newton, will be heading to Edinburgh in April where she’s had a paper accepted at the British Society of Animal Science Conference. The paper highlights the value of using data from commercial Australian dairy farms to demonstrate the benefits of herd improvement practices.

Jo Newton

Jo’s not the only YFC venturing to the Northern hemisphere. One of our newest YFC Alana Black will be heading to Scotland. While there she will be working for the Rural Youth Project. The Rural Youth Project aims to “develop feasible strategies to develop leadership and enterprise skills amongst young people in agricultural and rural communities based on understanding their current situation, aspirations, opportunities and challenges.”

alana black

Given the massive contribution Alana’s to the YVLT Communication Sub-Committee we know she’s going to make a really valuable contribution in Scotland and we’re looking forward to the sharing of ideas and experiences between the Rural Youth Project and PYiA. Read more about Alana’s journey here.

Congratulations to YFC and Climate Action advocate Anika Molesworth who has been appointed to the Crawford Fund’s NSW Committee.  The Crawford Fund is a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness of the benefits to Australia and developing countries of Australia’s engagement in international agricultural research and development.

The 2018 Narromine Showgirl and Grains YFC Keiley O’Brien will represent Narromine at the Zone 6 Final of The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Competition on February 16 in Young. Keiley will be up against 39 other Showgirls, from which three finalists will be chosen. Read more in the Narromine News here. Good luck to Keiley, and also to YFC Jasmine Whitten who will head to Narrabri to compete in her Showgirl Zone Final on February 26th! #goodluck

Keiley O'Brien
Photo: GEORGIE NEWTON PHOTOGRAPHY

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices19 #ThisisAusAg #StrongerTogether

Young Farming Champions Marlee Langfield and Keiley O’Brien share what the drought has taught them

Continuing our Lessons Learnt from the Drought Series. Today Grain Young Farming Champions Marlee Langfield and Keiley O’Brien share what the 2018 Drought has taught them.

 

 Marlee Langfield ( photo Cowra Guardian) and Keiley O’Brien ( photo Western Magazine) 

Young Farming Champions Marlee Langfield and Keiley O’Brien are two young women taking drought by the horns as they embark upon new agricultural roles with their partners in central New South Wales.

At 23 Marlee is CEO and manager of her family farm “Wallaringa” near Cowra, where she and her partner Andrew Gallagher produce grains and oilseeds. Just up the road at the Rawsonville Crossroads between Narromine and Dubbo Keiley, 23, and her partner Ross Noble run a diversified contracting business.

Drought has affected both businesses in the last two years and shows little signs of easing in 2019 so how has the season affected Marlee and Keiley and what lessons have they learnt?

“We began our 2018 sowing program planting dry into marginal moisture with our fingers crossed for follow up rain,” Marlee says. “Then we received a break half way through the program which restored our faith. The crops thrived off 5 to 13mm rain fall events throughout the majority of the growing season which is significantly less than the ‘norm’.”

However with droughts often come severe frosts, which affected the low lying areas of Marlee’s canola. “The main stem of a canola plant acts like a timeline displaying a visual of plant health by the appearance of the pods: shrivelled up and discoloured pods means it has been frosted, plump and elongated means it has enjoyed ideal conditions,” Marlee explains. Frost damaged canola has extremely low yield potential thus the decision was made to cut 12% of the Wallaringa canola crop for silage –which went as good feed to dairy cows.

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Sowing canola seed with an air seeder

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The canola plant pocks through 12 days after sowing 

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227 days from start to finish – harvesting canola windrows in December 

2018 highlighted for Marlee the difference small management decisions could make to the farming operation and also brought unexpected bonuses – with little rainfall there was low disease pressure and therefore reduced monetary inputs. “All things considered we really did grow a remarkable crop,” she says with optimism often missing in drought-related conversations.

 

Hay making comprises the bulk of Keiley and Ross’ contracting business but they learnt early on to diversify to spread their risk. In 2018 this decision proved invaluable. “In a good year such as 2016 we bale around 15,000 large square and round bales,” Keiley says, “but in poor years, like 2017 and 2018 we averaged around 5,000 large square and round bales.” To support the business they grow irrigated lucerne for the horse market and offer sowing, spraying and harvesting services to clients.

Drought exacerbates financial pressures and Keiley used the dry time to upskill. In December she graduated from the University of New England with a Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Business majoring in marketing and this year is undertaking a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and Accounting.

Keiley Une Graduation.jpg

Keiley graduated from University of New England with a Bachelor of Agriculture and a Bachelor of Business Majoring in Marketing. 

She and Ross also attended a Young Farmers Business Program in Dubbo.

“We were in the middle of re-structuring our business from a partnership to a company so the YFBP really helped us get our head around what we were doing and broke those big and complicated notions into easily understood blocks,”

“Another highlight was goal setting. We have goals of what we want to do and where we want to go but going through the SMART approach and physically writing them down on paper really re-enforced to us our aspirations and future direction. Mingling with other young people who had a passion for agriculture was also great because we made some good mates and industry connections.” she says.

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Keiley and her partner Ross and daughter Ruby 

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Andrew (left) and Marlee with agronomist Baden Dickson ( centre) Source The Land

Both Marlee and Keiley recognise the support and guidance they have received as they transition into business owners and operators in their own right. From a young age Marlee worked alongside her parents on Wallaringa and absorbed the world of grains, and then later gained off-farm experience to enable her to take the reins of the family property. Keiley credits Ross’ father with giving him deep foundations in the working of land and machinery, as well as providing equity to get their joint business off the ground.

Support has also come from a range of industry advisers and local businesses and Marlee credits her agronomist, Baden Dickson, in particular for supplying much needed expertise.

Going forward Marlee and Keiley will put lessons learnt into practice and continue their educational journeys, learning from those who have gone before them.

“As young people with a relatively young business we have learnt to be open with the way we do things,” Keiley says. “You don’t always have to take on board everything everyone says, but you should always thank them for taking the time to share their knowledge and ideas with you.”

And when the drought finally relinquishes its hold, what then?

“If we can grow a remarkable crop in one of the most challenging seasons then I can’t wait to see what we can do when it DOES rain,” Marlee says.

and Marlee will be documenting every step of her farming journey with her magnificent prize winning photos

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