Changing community perceptions of agriculture
There have been amazing changes within Australia’s agricultural industries since the 1970s including minimum till, robotic weed control, mechanical harvesters, remote water monitoring, and so much more it would be hard to make a comprehensive list.
However, new research from AgriFutures Australia has found that while those of us within ag know this, it seems almost one-fifth of the wider community believe rural industries have not changed in the past 50 years, and only 13% are very or extremely likely to consider working in ag. (As AgriFutures notes though, that’s a not insignificant number across Australia’s entire population.)
In the SQNNSW Innovation Hub region stretching from Longreach in Western Queensland to Dubbo in Northern New South Wales, we have several exciting projects on the go, to help highlight the current innovation and diversity of agricultural careers.
Regenerative Agriculture: Professional Learning for Educators
The Hub’s Lismore Node, via funding from the Australian Government’s Agricultural Innovation Hubs Program, is delivering professional learning workshops to highlight the latest in regenerative agriculture to science, agriculture, geography and general classroom teachers and teacher educators.
(If you are a teacher or you know a teacher who would like to join, the face-to-face workshops are at Lismore on May 3, Coffs Harbour on May 4, and online starting on May 10. Book your free seat here.)
The Longreach Node is supporting a CHRRUP program that equips year 10-12 students (15–17-year-old) with the skills, knowledge and pathways to enter the agriculture workforce.
The Node is supporting a one-week training block at Longreach, where they will learn more about first aid, agtech, wool harvesting, workforce success, livestock production and much more. CHRRUP reports this program was well and truly over-subscribed, which is an excellent outcome.
Rotary Youth in Agriculture
At the beginning of March, the Armidale Node provided a presentation at the Rotary Youth in Agriculture – Sheep event at Walcha.
Senior students from across New South Wales participate in the four-day camp, where they visit a range of industry facilities, innovative sheep farming operations and hear from experts on grazing strategies, artificial breeding, drone technology and even wool fashions.
Armidale Node Manager Lu Hogan says it’s always exciting to see agriculture’s next generation.
“Giving our future graziers and professionals through the supply chain an opportunity to explore the value-adding side of the industry is an important part of securing the industry’s future,” she says.
“It was great to see the students learning not just about tools like Ag360, or artificial insemination, or stock handling, but also to hear from producers like Katrina Blomfield and her family from Karori Merinos, whose superfine wool ends up in high value wool garments.
“These are all part of the modern wool industry, and it’s important that our next generation have a chance to see all the possibilities open to them.”
These are just some of the projects introducing both rural and urban students to the vast array of ag careers available in 2023.
The research, undertaken by data science company Voconiq as part of AgriFutures Australia’s Community Perceptions and Worker Experiences Research Program, involved surveying more than 5,000 people to understand the key drivers of workforce retention and attraction across rural industries.
Image courtesy of James Livingstone.