2021 Young Farming Champions – Introducing Olivia Borden

Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) is excited to be working with new partners this year and we welcome the Northern Territory Farmers Association to the fold. NT Farmers sent the call out for local early-career professionals with a passion to lead and advocate for NT agriculture. Here we’d like to introduce you to Olivia Borden who NT Farmers have selected to participate in the 2021 Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program.

If you can picture a female incarnation of John Williamson’s Mallee Boy crossed with Crocodile Dundee then you may have a notion of the adventurous soul that is Olivia Borden. One can just imagine her barefoot and racing through paddocks on her family’s farm on the Wimmera/ Mallee Border in north-western Victoria. Her family are fifth generation farmers with an intensive piggery, crops of wheat and barley and a contracting business.

“I started working on the farm as soon as I was old enough to lift a bucket, and I went up north to Queensland with my father contract harvesting. It was there I fell in love with large northern properties.” Olivia says

Olivia attended a 12-student primary school before transferring to Donald for the rest of her schooling.

“On the school bus I used to read the country newspapers and I’d flick straight to the job section, reading the station hand advertisements over and over again.”

Post high school she studied at Longerenong Agricultural College.

“The day after I turned 21 I fed the pigs for the last time, packed my ute and headed north. I rang a phone number off the back of a shearing singlet I’d been given and got a job just south of Ivanhoe the very next day. I threw fleeces, crutched sheep, lamb marked and occasionally, when we were down a shearer, got on a stand.  I loved the back country – I still think they are the best sunrises I’ve ever seen – but I was hungry for the real north.”

So to the north she went and landed her first job on the live-cattle export cattle-yards in the Territory.

“I vomited every day chasing cattle through the hot mud, in torrential rain and intense humidity loading road train after road train. Working in 45 degree shearing sheds was nothing compared to the heat and intensity of the export yards.”

From the export yards she moved onto stations,

“Where I found what I had been looking for; living out of a swag and off a fire for months at a time, aboriginal stock crews, buffalo, scrub bulls, helicopters, motorbikes and horses, rocky escarpments and flood fencing and untamed country.”

It wasn’t until Olivia spent wet seasons working in Katherine that she was exposed to the horticultural industry and realised the opportunity to make real agricultural change through agronomy.

“I didn’t think I would be capable of being an agronomist but my bosses believed in me enough to convince me to try. Then they threw me in the car and introduced me to the world of tropical pastures, watermelon and mango growers but it was the developing the northern cotton industry that won my heart over. I found every day incredibly challenging and stimulating I signed on as a trainee agronomist. I haven’t looked back.”

Olivia’s love of the diversity of Australian food and fibre production has seen her experience many of agriculture’s facets, an experience she sees as both a blessing and a curse and she has turned to PYiA to address this.

“It’s taken me a long time to settle into a career and being out bush for a lot of years has set me back in terms of professional development. I am looking to the YFC program to cultivate skills and attributes that will help me go from being an average employee at the risk of getting lost in the business world, to being a humbly confident, supportive agronomist and business woman, who can advocate for NT agriculture, build strong community rapport and encourage other young people to join agriculture and be part of the fast pace of its future development.”

Welcome to the Young Farming Champions family Olivia

#YouthinAg #agronomist #AGSTEMCareers

 

 

Wild catch fishing – meet the people who catch the prawns for your plate

One of key learnings from the Young Farming Champions cross agriculture sector network is whilst farmers from different industry sectors are experts in their field, they often know very little about other sectors and are hungry to learn. So you can imagine how excited the team is to have Bryan Van Wyk join us from Austral Fisheries so we can learn about carbon neutral wild catching fishing

Bryan Van Wyk’s office – does it get better than this 

Banana Prawn season is underway and we invited Bryan to share with us what the 2021 season is looking like.

the inside story …….

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The banana prawn season is one of the most wild and exciting commercial fishing seasons the world has to offer. Due to the rapid life cycle and boom-bust nature of prawns, it is one of the few fisheries in Australia that can’t be managed with quotas. This means skippers are able to go and catch as many prawns as they can in the short period which makes for a highly competitive, strategic and actioned packed fishing season. For the past 4-5 months the fishery has been closed to allow a newly spawned generation of banana prawns to have the chance to settle into the rivers, grow and recruit back into the fishing grounds after the wet season rainfall. Prior to the start of the fishing season on April 1st, the fishing grounds are re-populated and large mud boils (banana prawn masses which disturb the sediment on the sea floor to create mud plumes) can be seen from space. When the season commences, airplanes are used to direct vessels to banana prawn mud boils where crews can catch, pack and snap freeze between 5,000 and 10,000kgs of prawns per day (when things are going well).  Once a skipper fills their vessels freezer, the crew are required to unload the catch via a mothership or a nearby port.

The largest and most consistent banana catches are found during the first month of the season. Karumba is a small, remote fishing town situated in the Gulf of Carpentaria and is an attractive unloading point for vessels due to the close proximity to fishing grounds and the availability of fuel, supplies, repairs and product transport logistics. For the past 5 banana prawn seasons I have orchestrated and managed an unload operation in the heart of Karumba while attending to the vast day-to-day operational duties of managing 11 prawn trawlers.  Each year is a challenging and fulfilling journey and this year was no different.

In preparation to this season I put together a workforce of 20 people in Cairns (which was a real challenge with a noticeable shortage in available seasonal workers). After inductions and paperwork were finalised, we made our way to Karumba, set up camp and began training in preparation for our first round of customers. Always being prepared is at the heart of everything I do and worker health and safety is a priority at Austral Fisheries. As a group we practice setting up the unloading gear, stacking boxes and highlight potential safety hazards in our environment along the way.

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This year’s season started off with a bang with most vessels in the fishery filling up in the first week of the season. On the second day of the season there were over 30 banana prawn marks spotted with our plane near Karumba and in the first 10 days we unloaded a total of 380MT which was on par with some of our bigger seasons. This was one of the most exhausting 10 days I have experienced in Karumba. It’s hard to predict how long catches like this would last in a volatile fishery like this but if there is one thing I’ve learnt in this industry it’s that you have to prepare for the worst (or best depending which way you look at it) so I made the call to increase packaging productions, bring in reinforcements and more supplies to keep up with the catches. Sure enough, after making these decisions, catches began to drop rapidly and boats started moving out of the Karumba region. It’s not unusual for catches to suddenly drop like this, but predicting when this occurs is impossible. With a full team of staff, unloaders and engineers, and freezer trucks on standby, we made the call to end the operation for another year.

Goodbyes are never easy, but bringing a workforce together with completely different views and beliefs, watching them work as a team in a challenging environment and then seeing lifelong friendships developed by the end is one of the most rewarding parts of this journey.

Although starting off strong, we are now 3 weeks into this banana prawn season and early predictions are showing an average catch season outcome. There is still potentially more than 7 weeks of fishing to go and things may change as more prawns are found. These prawns will all be sold into the domestic market (supermarkets, restaurants and wholesalers) for Australian’s to enjoy throughout the year.

Check out these amazing banana prawn recipes 

Thanks Bryan, Australians love their prawns and knowing what is involved in catching them and delivering them to our tables gives us more respect for our fishers

 

Corteva announces agricultural scholarship winners

We are very excited to share with you that Corteva Agriscience has announced Emily May and Veronika Vicic as their scholarship winners to participate in the two-year Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program.

Veronika will join the program in the initial year where she will develop skills to advocate for agriculture while being mentored by a Young Farming Champion.

“ As part of the Young Farming Champions network I will have the opportunity to share my story to a wide audience, have greater impact and enable change. To do this I require confidence and skills to communicate, and the program will give me that. I want to be able to give back to the community by sharing the knowledge and experiences I have had with a younger audience and to encourage and excite the next generation about how food is produced, and the technological and environmental advancements agriculture has made.” Veronika said

Emily has already completed her initial year with the program and is aiming to widen her agricultural horizons and take on a mentoring role for the next generation.

“I am looking forward to increasing my network of like-minded agriculturists and to share the good news stories of agriculture to showcase the opportunities the sector can provide. This program will help me craft these stories and, in doing so, help champion our young people, particularly young women, who will be part of the changing face of Australian agriculture.” Emily said

Read more about Emily here 

 

In addition to the scholarship winners, Corteva will put two of their own– Connie Mort and Steph Tabone – through the program.

“Corteva is excited to have two of our talented staff members as a part of this impressive program. The training and networking opportunities available will greatly enhance their skills and personal development, setting their professional careers up for the future. As a business we are looking to young agricultural professionals across all industries to help us tailor our solutions to address the challenges that growers, consumers and communities are facing now and how we can ensure progress for generations to come.  The PYiA Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program aligns extremely well with our goals and aspirations.” Dan Dixon, ANZ Marketing Director for Corteva Agriscience said.

 

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2021 YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS – INTRODUCING STEPHANIE TABONE

Today we are excited to introduce you to Stephanie Tabone, the second of our Corteva Agriscience team participants in the 2021 Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program. Steph is a Sydney girl who has fallen in love with agriculture and the opportunities it presents.

In 2017 Stephanie Tabone had a light-bulb moment.

“A couple of months after North Queensland was hit by Cyclone Debbie, I remember shopping for fruit and vegetables when I noticed a customer unsatisfied with the store for not having tomatoes. The customer was seemingly unaware many crops were badly affected by the cyclone and that North Queensland was a key region supplying produce at that time of year. As a fellow consumer I understood how she felt, because I too have grown up in this world where produce has always been readily available. It wasn’t until I became more involved in the industry that I learned of the challenges our farmers face and of the effort it takes to get produce on the shelves. It’s given me a real appreciation for the quality and reliability of Australian agriculture.”

Stephanie was on the cusp of her career in agriculture, working for vegetable grower Kalfresh in southern Queensland after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from The University of Sydney. She’d already come a long way from the city streets of her childhood as she embraced her new world at university.

“I soon learnt that agriculture at the Uni was a small, close-knit faculty where everyone was like family. Through laboratory and field practicals, rural field trips and placements on-farm, I quickly learnt of the diverse opportunities the industry had to offer and it was here I developed my true passion for agriculture.”

Stephanie’s next lightbulb moment came in 2019 when she was nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, and attended an industry dinner at the Melbourne Aquarium. Here she met Corteva’s Rob Kaan and Elizabeth Hernandez and had some of her agricultural preconceptions changed.

“I was surprised to learn that Corteva, an agricultural chemical company was promoting sustainable farming practices that could ultimately result in a reduction in the use of chemicals. Corteva had such strong values and were passionate about providing technologies for farmers that allow them to produce safe, affordable food, with minimal impact to the environment. They were also empowering women across the industry.”

Stephanie was impressed with Corteva, so when circumstances saw her return to Sydney, she approached the company for career opportunities. Corteva was also impressed and created a project-based role for her. Today Stephanie is both a territory sales representative and the Stewardship Manager for ANZ, a role where she oversees products from inception to discontinuation.

“Stewardship exists to ensure products are delivered successfully to customers and that those products perform, whilst remaining safe to end users and the environment.”

Now into her second year with Corteva, Stephanie is looking forward to joining the Young Farming Champions program to further her agricultural understanding.

“I would like to contribute positively to the industry by helping to find and implement solutions to agriculture’s major challenges. Through the YFC program I want to strengthen and polish my existing skills, learn new skills and ultimately gain confidence to continue to step outside of my comfort zone. I am also looking forward to engaging with young people about agriculture and sharing the diversity of careers in the sector.”

 

2021 YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS – INTRODUCING CONNIE MORT

Today Picture You in Agriculture introduces you to Connie Mort who has been selected by her employer Corteva Agriscience to participant in our Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program

Connie is a Territory Account Manager for the Riverina.

Connie Mort grew up surrounded by sheep on a Merino property near Mudgee in central west NSW where her family have been farming for over 50 years, so it was only natural that holidays from boarding school were spent running her hands through fine wool and learning the finer points of stock husbandry. After high school she continued this education on a sheep and cattle station in the wilds of north-east South Australia for a gap year.

Then Connie changed tack completely. “During 2010 I spent time travelling overseas and then seven months teaching English to 12–21-year-olds at Ikwiriri Secondary School in Tanzania,” she says but a “steady passion and interest in agriculture” drew her back to Australia and The University of Sydney where she studied a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.

“From a young age I had gained a foundational understanding of farming and agriculture and at university I was able to learn more and explore different areas.” With the university she travelled to Laos and Timor Leste to study farming systems in developing countries and investigate international agricultural research initiatives. She did her honours project in soil capability and security and was awarded the USYD Faculty of Agriculture & Environment Brian G. Davey Memorial Scholarship in Soil Science in 2014.

“Leaving uni, I didn’t really know which direction I wanted to go with my career, so I kept my options open and applied for all sorts of jobs. I was keen to explore a different side to agriculture that I hadn’t experienced and landing the job with Corteva has given me exposure to broadacre cropping, horticulture, and summer irrigated cropping.”

In her role with Corteva Connie collaborates with many people to develop and distribute Corteva products and is continually learning as the industry itself evolves.

“It’s exciting to be part of the years-long process involved in bringing a new product to market and satisfying to see how these innovations can make growing a crop just a little bit easier or make farming more sustainable for the grower.”

Life-long learning and exploration of agriculture’s diversity is a strong theme in Connie’s work attitude, and she sees many challenges and opportunities in the future for agriculture; something she wishes to share with the wider community.

“I am passionate about people being provided with information backed by science and the latest research so they can draw their own conclusions and opinions from a position of fact,” she says and to this end she has joined the Young Farming Champions program to develop her communication skills and to build a network of colleagues from across agricultural industries.

Welcome to the program Connie and Corteva.

2021 YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS – INTRODUCING SHANNON CHATFIELD

Outback by accident – that could describe Shannon Chatfield, Picture You in Agriculture’s newest participant in the 2021 Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program. So exactly how does someone from a hobby farm accidently find themselves on one of the Northern Territory’s largest cattle stations? Let’s meet Shannon and find out.

Shannon grew up on small acreage an hour south of Perth surrounded by horses, which led her to study and work as a veterinary nurse on the completion of high school in 2009, although she wasn’t sure what direction this would take her. She knew she wanted a career in a rural environment so five years later she went travelling and decided to work as a jillaroo in the Northern Territory for a month.

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“I was attracted to Kirkimbie Station [Consolidated Pastoral Company – CPC] because it was a remote cattle breeding property with a small station team,” she says. “It also ran a horse stud to top up camp horses for the rest of the CPC places. This was attractive to me coming from a horse background and was the only thing that felt familiar when moving into a completely foreign environment where I didn’t know anyone on the station, let alone in the industry.”

The fact she was not from a strong agricultural upbringing did not deter Shannon.

“I believe that coming from a different background you don’t take this kind of lifestyle for granted and it’s easy to appreciate how amazing and unique the agricultural industry really is.”

This attitude has taken her from a one month contract to an extraordinary career with northern Australia’s cattle industry. She has worked across various CPC stations, completed a Bachelor of Applied Science, expanded her knowledge of the industry through courses facilitated by CPC and the NTCA (Northern Territory Cattle Association) and now holds the role of Research Project Officer for CPC and Manager’s Assistant alongside her partner Jimmy on Newcastle Waters Station.

“What started out as a month contract on a station out of pure curiosity has turned into a new passion and a career with long-term goals.”

Those long-term goals include leadership in an industry Shannon has come to love. She sees social licence, research and technology and the retention of young people as important issues and would like to see the northern beef industry “lead in sustainability both economically and environmentally.

I want to be a leader people look up to; someone who can confidently promote the industry but also talk about the tough issues challenging agriculture and help the industry take steps to overcome these. I want to be part of the solution encouraging conversations between producers and consumers and help support young people within the industry to be future leaders.”

CPC also hosts Indonesian students  and as a testament to the opportunities open to young people in the industry Shannon had the opportunity to go to Indonesia in 2020 as part of the NTCA Indonesia Australia Pastoral Program (NIAPP).

“It was an amazing experience to be able to see the whole supply chain from station to Indonesian families buying meat at the wet markets”

With these ideals in mind Shannon is looking forward to embarking on her Young Farming Champions journey, sponsored by NTCA, where she hopes to learn from others, develop skills in communication and engagement, and promote the range of career opportunities in agriculture.

“When I first started out as a jillaroo on a station, I had no idea of the possibilities and career paths within the northern beef industry. All I could see at the time was the promotion to a leading hand, head stockman, then eventually to manager. I could have left the industry soon after, thinking there was not a place or career for me. I think we as an industry could be better at offering and promoting alternative career paths to retain people who may not fit within those specific station roles.”

Welcome aboard Shannon. We recognise your passion for the northern beef industry and look forward to learning from you as you learn from us.

#YouthinAg

 

2021 Young Farming Champions – Introducing Bryan Van Wyk

Picture You in Agriculture is thrilled to welcome the fishing industry into our fold and our very first fishing YFC Bryan Van Wyk. Bryan is a shining example of one who is living his best life, working in a career he loves.

Let’s meet him.

Bryan can currently be found in Cairns or on the ocean in his role managing prawn trawlers for Austral Fisheries, but his story begins on the northern coast of Tasmania in Burnie where rock pools inspired a life-long appreciation for the marine environment.

“None of my family fished or had strong connections with the ocean but as a child I was fascinated with rock pools and would spend hours discovering all the different sea animals that lived in them. As I grew older, I found myself spending all my free time either fishing, spearfishing, or diving. The ocean was my happy place and I wanted to find ways to spend more time on the water and expand my knowledge of all creatures living beneath the surface,” he says.

Bryan’s happy place

Bryan attended Burnie High School and Hellyer College (also in Burnie).

“I remember a critical moment at school where all students were asked to think about what they wanted to do when they grew up. At the time I was not exactly sure what to pick but I remember being told that if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. I knew that I loved the ocean, so I began a journey towards studying marine science and tailored my schooling towards that goal.”

Post school Bryan continued to work towards his goal, completing a Bachelor of Applied Science (Marine Environment) with first class honours at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston. Following a similar career path to Austral Fisheries CEO David Carter, Bryan was offered a job with Austral in his final year and in 2015 relocated to Cairns.

“It is rare for a graduate fresh out of university and with no experience to be offered a job with such a reputable company so I jumped at the opportunity.”

Bryan is now living the life he loves in Australia’s northern climes, as head of operations for Austral’s northern prawn fishing fleet. In this varied job he manages 11 trawlers, which involves monitoring the catch, product logistics, packaging distribution, equipment and ship maintenance, vessel surveys and liaison with industry bodies. He is also involved with bycatch reduction, product quality improvement and new innovations.

But beyond the job Bryan has high aspirations for fishing and the marine world he so cherishes.

“I would like to become a respected influencer and leader with a positive impact for the industry I work in. I believe that one day I will be leading my organisation in the Northern Prawn Fishery and hope to maintain a profitable operation while staying true to important values such as environmental sustainability and crew wellbeing. I would also like to empower others around me to think about the bigger picture and work collectively to tackle common threats such as climate change, pollution, bycatch and water development.”

With these goals in mind Bryan and Austral have turned to the Young Farming Champions program.

“I hope to learn from other people and their experiences in different industries. I want to compare issues and stories and discover strategies taken to overcome problems. I am keen to grow my personal development and network with like-minded people along the way and to sharpen my public speaking and communication skills.”

Welcome Bryan. We look forward to working with you on your YFC journey and beyond.

We also look forward to sampling some of these fabulous Austral products

 

Meet Dylan Male the winner of the inaugural Riverina Local Land Services Emerging Leaders Scholarship

Dylan Male is the winner of 2020 Riverina Local Land Services scholarship that will see him participate in a two year program an d graduate as a Young Farming Champion 

In this blog post Dylan shares what drives him

Hi everyone, my name is Dylan and I’m passionate about agricultural systems that produce enough healthy food for all and reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. This passion has led me to commence my PhD studies investigating the agronomy and ecology of a native Australian grass species that was cultivated for its grain by Indigenous Australians. The project is in partnership with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and Latrobe University.

One question I often find myself being asked is ‘What has sparked your passion and driven you to do what you do today?’.

From an early age, growing up in the Riverina I witnessed firsthand some of the challenges facing our agricultural sector. I have the most vivid memories of the millennium drought from growing up on a farm on Wiradjuri Country in NSW. From seeing towering red walls of topsoil approaching over the horizon and enveloping the sky into darkness, to watching green crops wither away from a lack of rain and parched sheep gathering around dams dwindled to no more than a mere puddle. There were many times I wanted to do something to help. As a kid, I felt powerless to do anything. However, as I grew up, I soon realised that I could help contribute towards overcoming the challenges facing our farmers – even ones as big as tackling climate change and land degradation.

We are living through a time of rapid change and challenge, where our agricultural systems are increasingly vulnerable to fracturing. It is a time where the world population continues to rise, placing added pressure onto food security and our planet’s finite resources. It is a time where the health of our soils is poor and in need of repair. On top of this, we are seeing the high-risk nature of farming exacerbated by a changing climate. It is a time which demands adaptive thinking and innovation if we are to ensure future prosperity of our modern agricultural systems.

One crucial way to achieve this is through the incorporation of traditional agricultural knowledge into our modern systems. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth and is renowned for its particularly harsh conditions. Yet, despite this, the continent has been successfully inhabited by humans for tens of thousands of years. Perhaps one of the most held misconceptions is that Indigenous Australians relied exclusively on a ‘hunter and gatherer’ approach to obtaining food. However, Indigenous Australians were incredibly innovative and sustainable when it came to food production. One must only read through Bruce Pascoe’s ‘Dark Emu’ to realise that food production systems in pre-European Australia were very well established and sustainably managed. One of these traditional food production systems consisted of domesticating, growing and harvesting grains from native grasses. The cultivation of grains for human consumption has played an important role in human survival and societal development around the world (think rice in Asia, wheat in the Middle East and maize in America). For Indigenous Australians, this was no different. In fact, evidence suggests that Indigenous Australians were the first people on Earth to use grain for food, with starch particles found on grinding stones in parts of Australia dating back many tens of thousands of years.

Since European colonisation, there has been great loss to these native grain production systems. Not only has environmental destruction led to native grasslands becoming one of the most threatened and degraded ecosystems in Australia, but highly relied upon traditional knowledge that had been developed and passed down over many generations was suddenly lost as a result of dispossession and genocide.

There is increasing recognition that the growing of Aboriginal food plants will contribute towards a more prosperous and sustainable modern Australian agricultural sector. It will also provide empowerment to Aboriginal communities and play an important role in healing Country. Additionally, the upscaling of native food crops could be an important tool to combat the effects of a changing climate on food production and to protect against losses to biodiversity.

These are just some of the reasons behind what drives me to pursue a career in agriculture and where I find myself today. I look forward to my continued learning journey and hope to do my part in ensuring Australia’s agricultural sector prospers into the future.

We are looking forward to working with Dylan and learning more about his research and providing him with opportunities to share it with next gen consumers and agriculturalists in our school programs 

Dylan Male is the winner of the Riverina Local Land Services Emerging Young Leaders Scholarship.

Riverina Local Land Services, in conjunction with Picture You in Agriculture, is pleased to announce that Riverina local Dylan Male is the winner of its inaugural Emerging Young Leaders Scholarship.

The scholarship will allow Dylan to participate in the prestigious Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program run by Picture You in Agriculture. This two-year training package will give Dylan exposure to some of the country’s top media and communication specialists and give him the skills to accelerate his journey in agricultural leadership.

“As someone passionate about agriculture and the role of youth in the sector, I am thrilled to be selected as a recipient of the Riverina Local Land Services/PYiA Growing Young Leaders Scholarship. Participation in this incredible scholarship program means I will be able to gain a range of skills that will develop my confidence and provide me with a greater sense of empowerment as an emerging leader in the agricultural sector.” Dylan said.

Growing up on a Riverina farm during the Millennium Drought meant Dylan saw the challenging face of Australian agriculture from an early age, but rather than be discouraged, he realised he could be part of the solution for a better future. He studied a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) at Charles Sturt University and, with an increasing interest in the role of indigenous farmers in the modern landscape, is now undertaking a PhD with LaTrobe University. Dylan’s PhD project is a partnership  with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Coorperation investigating Australian native grain-producing grass species building on successful outcomes  growing  commercially viable indigenous grains in the Narrabri region.  

“One of the key skills that the program will help me to sharpen is influential communication. Improving this skill will allow me to more effectively story tell and share my experiences in agriculture with both young people and the wider community. Through storytelling, I hope to achieve not only increased awareness of the many diverse and rewarding opportunities that a career in the agricultural sector offers, but also help develop community understanding of how important the sector is to our functioning world.” Dylan said

The Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program will also give Dylan access to mentorship through Riverina Local Land Services.

“For Riverina LLS, this scholarship forms part of our region’s succession plan.  We are delighted to be supporting an emerging agricultural leader with a connection to our region to grow and develop their skills.

We look forward to working with Dylan over the next two years through the raft of opportunities available in this scholarship. Riverina LLS will provide Dylan with mentors from each area of our organisation to build upon his agricultural interest areas of sustainability and land management, indigenous agricultural systems and pest management. Dylan is a great example of the talented young people we have in the Riverina – our region has a bright future.” ” general manager Ray Willis said.

As part of the scholarship Dylan will hone his skills by engaging with school students as part of The Archibull Prize and the Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge.

You can read what drives Dylan here

#YouthinAg #IndigineousGrains #IndigenousFarmingPractices

Growing Young Leaders meet Calum Watt a crop breeder for the future

In partnership with Corteva Agriscience we invited emerging leaders in the agriculture sector to share with us what drives them. We also asked them to tells us if they had a magic wand what would they change in the agriculture sector.

Today’s guest blog comes from PhD candidate and crop breeder Calum Watt

“ I get a lot of excitement from being involved in an industry that is everyday looking for ways to produce more, from less, in the most sustainable way possible. No day is same. There is never a dull moment on my career path.”

Calum shares with us:

  • Careers in agriculture extend beyond the farm gate. “Farmers” can be scientists
  • Crop scientists can improve the productivity, profitability, resilience and sustainability of Australia’s crops
  • Communication is critical to connecting science to the paddock

This is Calum’s story

Warming to the idea that a career in agriculture could or would be for me was somewhat of a slow burn at first.

This is a bit unusual given as I grew up surrounded by agriculture in a rural dairy community in the south of Western Australia. Whilst I loved the lifestyle, I never really considered agriculture from a career perspective because everyone involved in agriculture are farmers, aren’t they?

Or at least that is what I originally thought back in my wild youth. My lightbulb moment came one year into a botany degree that agriculture was where I was wanted to be and my role as an agricultural scientist, more precisely a crop breeder would see me join the 82% of careers in agriculture that support farmers to produce food

.At university I developed a keen interest in genetics and whilst I had always had a passion agriculture and plants I had no idea that there was a career that could marry them all together. This is when I discovered the important role of a crop breeder. An ability to recombine genes to improve the resilience, sustainability and productivity of crop production is something so satisfying; something so simple yet something so critically important to improving our local and global food security. The late Norman Borlaug, an inspiration of mine, stove off global food insecurity by manipulating only a handful of genes through breeding, effectively doubling global crop production in what is known as the Green Revolution.

Gene-editing, has the potential to address the concerns consumers care about most: nutritional health, climate change, food waste and the need for more natural production techniques.

Techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9, which cuts and ‘edits’ strands of DNA, may enable farmers to reduce their use of pesticides, while boosting the resilience of crops to fungi, extreme weather and enriching their nutrient content.

There set the stage for a further 8 years at university progressing me slowly, but surely towards a career as a crop breeder to play my role in supporting global food security and achieving  Global Goal 2 – Zero Hunger and Global Goal 12  Responsible Production and Global Goal 13 Climate Action    

Being a plant breeder allows me to combine my three main passions into one role where I can improve the productivity, profitability, climate resilience and sustainability of Australia’s crop production and help ensure everyone has access to safe, affordable, nutritious food as efficiently as possible. If we can manipulate one gene, improve disease resistance and reduce the need for fungicides this is a win for people and the planet.

I am so optimistic about the future of agriculture and my place within it . The recent awarding of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna  for the development of a method for genome editing  known as CRISPR-Cas9 is an exciting example of just one spanner in the toolbox which crop researchers and breeders can utilise to develop the climate resilient crops of the future.

My excitement at the level of science and technology I get to work with as a crop breeder inspires me to share my story and the research behind the work my fellow crop breeders do on podiums across the country.

I invite you to Join me in an industry that everyday is looking for ways to produce more, from less, in the most efficient, climate resilient way possible.

Calum has recently submitted his PhD and joined the crop breeding team at Intergrain

Listen to Calum share his story on the Generation Ag podcast here 

and read more in this recent Farm Weekly Young Guns article

Learn more about Calum’s work via his published journal articles

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2020.01273/full

https://www.publish.csiro.au/cp/CP20169

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-020-03579-z

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-018-3243-y