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Nuffield Australia 2009 Spring Tour report

The Nuffield Spring Tour and Scholar Presentations were hosted by the New South Wales branch of Nuffield Australia in Hawkesbury NSW, from the 22nd-25th October 2009. Between 60 and 160 people participated in various segments of the program. The tour program commenced with the debriefing and briefing of new and returning scholars on the Wednesday in Sydney.

Special thanks must go to Simon and Rosie Turnbull,Tony HamiltonIan MacintoshLiz RileyMatt Stott and Jan Stillard, who all helped with gifts, esky’s, wheels etc. The tour had the input from Jim Friend and Brent Alexander and the Nuffield Board and their partners and we really appreciated their help.

Particular thanks to NSW FarmersDelta Agriculture Grain Growers AssociationRural Press and Leppington Dairies who sponsored meals and many Nuffield sponsors and friend who made the tour a lot of fun as well as being instructive.

To meet 18 new Nuffield Scholars [5 from NSW] was worth the trip, let alone the returning scholar’s reports, which were I think equal to the best ever. Special mention to Gregg Somerville, 2009 UK Scholar and Seamus Holland 2009 Irish Scholar, who both participated in the Tour. We welcome their input that added to the extraordinary fellowship of the 4 days.

Thursday 22nd October

On the Thursday morning the delegates all boarded buses from either Windsor or Woolloomooloo to head to Leppington Dairy, owned by the Perich Family, within the Leppington Pastoral Company Pty. Ltd. The dairy was commissioned in November 2000 and is a 2,000 cow freestall facility which enables climate control. Fans and spray are automatically controlled to switch on once the temperature rises above 21oC. Annual production is in excess of 28 million litres, they own and operate a milk tanker which distributes their milk to 6 different processors, including a joint venture with UHT, Kirin, A2 Dairy Products Australia and other boutique manufacturers processing milk.

Leppington Pastoral Company have also expanded their business into a range of other enterprises including Organic Fertilisers (Leppington) & Superior Shavings, Oran Park Raceway, Narellan Town Centre, Freedom Nutritional Products and Contract Beverage Packers of Australia.

The next stop for the day was the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute at Camden, including a drive through the farm and past the Cow Pastures, before arriving at Belgenny Farm for lunch and an opportunity to listen to a number of researchers from NSW DPI.

Presentations at Belgenny Farm commenced with Garry Levot speaking about  Insecticide Resistance in Sheep Lice. It has been predicted that the economic loss from lice in Australia is approximately $123million per annum, with lousy sheep cutting 10% less wool. Wool growers only have a very limited opportunity to eliminate lice from sheep, being ‘offshears’ (0-24 hours after shearing) or in ‘short wool’ (1-42 days after shearing). Treatments outside this will only reduce lice numbers.  Download presentation (2 MB)

Narelle Sales then spoke about the research that was conducted to develop a lice detection test, which is now available and on the market. The test can be carried out in the shearing shed, thus enabling the farmer to determine at shearing if lice treatment is necessary.

Michael Hornitzky then spoke about  Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bees. The Honey bee industry production is estimated at $80 million, but bees contribute to the pollination of seed and food crops, at an estimated value of about $1.7 billion per annum. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a poorly understood phenomenon in which worker bees quickly disappear from affected colonies, with no single cause identified. Further work is still required in this area to fully understand the disorder.  Download presentation (1.1 MB)

Bob Macintosh followed with a talk about three cereal rusts and UG99. This was followed by Mark Stanham talking about the history of Camden Park before finishing the afternoon with an inspection of the original merino genetics.

Later that afternoon the buses split, with each visiting a vegetable farm before meeting up at Rural Press, and The Land Newspaper for a tour and BBQ dinner.

Friday 23rd October

On Friday everyone gathered in the Sebel at Windsor to hear presentations from returning scholars. Professor Bill Bellotti; Vincent Fairfax Chair in Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development, gave the keynote address titled  The Role of Australian Agriculture in Securing Global Food Security. He spoke about the current challenge of increasing global food production by 75% by 2050, while reducing inputs and green house gas emissions. At the same time primary producers are dealing with carbon trading, climate change, water policy and environmental flows. This will be the largest challenge humanity has ever faced.  Download presentation (1.6 MB)

Stuart Barden, supported by GRDC was the first scholar presentation. His topic was  Grain Growing in Low Rainfall Environments, something which many of us have been experiencing. His closing comment taken from a BBC Four interview was “If you can’t take a joke Daddy you shouldn’t be farming.”  Download presentation (1.7 MB)

Leon Ryan, supported by the GRDC then followed, speaking about  China, India, Durum Wheat – Understanding Emerging Trends. During his presentation approximately 661 new consumers were born in China and 687 new consumers were born in India, all of whom will need feeding.  Download presentation (1.4 MB)

Cameron Tubby, supported by Landmark then spoke about  Drought Proofing the Low Rainfall Zones of WA. The secret to doing this will not just be in new systems but rather how they are implemented. It will require a holistic view of farm management with people working with the environment in less risky enterprises and creating more sustainable farming systems for current and future generations.  Download presentation (2.3 MB)

Bruce Watson, supported by Macquarie Agricultural Services spoke about  Commodity Price Risk Management. His closing comment referenced a study by Nivens & Kastens (1999) that found price received had the least impact on farm profit, but cost of production and technology adoption had largest. We should stop stressing about marketing and accept market average for a significant portion of our grain.  Download presentation (1.3 MB)

Ben Morris, supported by the Rural Finance Corporation spoke about the importance of  soil structure and fertility. Controlled traffic and zero till should both be implemented to improve soil structure, and ongoing research is required into nutrient availability.  Download presentation (3.1 MB)

David Drage, supported by the Estates of the late RC & EC Cappur Webb spoke about  carbon pollution reduction schemes. Threats and Opportunities for Broadacre Agriculture. He mentioned that actual science has become irrelevant in the debate as climate change and carbon pollution is the hot topic, although adoption of farming practices to fit the political agenda will still result in the adoption of good farming practices. The world faces more important issues than carbon pollution reduction schemes.  Download presentation (648 k)

Brendon Tierney, supported by the Kondinin Group studied the way capital is employed in farm business and whether there is a more efficient way to use this capital. He stated that a change of mindset is required in Australia to separate farm operating and ownership activities.  Download presentation (356 k)

James Hassall, supported by the GRDC provided an update in the  developments of precision agriculture. GPS, wireless technology and agricultural equipment has undergone some significant developments, with more advancement expected in the future. Stay tuned to www.robotsgofarming.com  Download presentation (1.4 MB)

The final scholar presentation of the day was David Cussons, supported by Australian Wool Innovation. His topic was  A study of communication techniques and approaches to crisis communication. His closing comments included that we need to understand the demographics of the public, embrace the latest social media techniques, have a crisis communications plan and also use sports stars to promote agriculture.  Download presentation (1.8 MB)

Awards Dinner – Friday evening at the Hawkesbury Race Club

Friday evening over 160 people attended the Scholar Presentation Dinner at the Hawkesbury Race Club. The evening featured Ian Macintosh delivering the inaugural George Wilson Oration (in memory of our long standing past Chairman), presentations to 4 of our 40 year returned Scholars and a presentation to Neil Inall, who along with Geoff Miller, completed the External Review of Nuffield in 1999 that has led to our recent growth. However, the highlight of the evening was the presentation of scholarships to the 2010 Nuffield Scholars. These were:

Stephen Ball, Riverton, SA, supported by the GRDC.

Robert Egerton-Warburton, Kojonup, WA, supported by the GRDC.

David Gooden, Lockhart, NSW, supported by the GRDC.

Rowen Paulet, Flynns Creek, Vic, sponsored by the GRDC.

Alastair Starritt, Womboota, NSW, supported by the GRDC.

Alan Redfern, Wee Waa, NSW, supported by the Grain Growers Association.

Ian Duthie, Triabunna, TAS, sponsored by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Edward Cox, Busselton, WA, supported by Dairy Australia and the Australian Dairy Conference.

Graeme Nicoll, Fish Creek, Vic, supported by the Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation.

Christine Ferguson, Wanaaring, NSW, supported by Meat & Livestock Australia.

Ben Hooper, Tintinara, SA, supported by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Honeybee Research and Development Program.

Don Madden, Proston, QLD, supported by Rabobank.

0Helen Thomas, Manoora, SA, supported by Landmark.

Minh Hieu Ly, Waterloo corner, SA, supported by the National Vegetable R & D Levyand Horticulture Australia Ltd.

Steven Newman, Gumeracha, SA, supported by the National Vegetable R & D Levy and Horticulture Australia Ltd.

Brad Stillard, Barooga, NSW, supported by the Australian Processing Tomato Growers and Horticulture Australia Ltd.

Ben Tyley, Kangaroo Island, SA, supported by the Sidney Myer Foundation.

Marty Phillips, Innisfail, Qld, supported by Nuffield Australia – Queensland Branch.

Saturday 24th October

Saturday morning the buses departed the Sebel for Osborne Park, recently purchased by Darley Australia from Ingham’s Racing and Breeding Horse Operation. This property is owned and operated by Darley, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai. It is part of his global breeding operation which currently stands stallions in six countries around the world. Horse breeding is the Sheikh’s passion, with the best horses transferred to Godolphin, to race in the famous blue silks that have been carried to victory in numerous races across the globe.

Following this visit the group visited UWS – Hawkesbury Campus to inspect some leading edge research. This included a tour of the water recycling on the urban/rural periphery with Roger Attwater. Roger spoke about the opportunities which exist for water recycling and reuse and the importance of risk management and communication in transforming this into a valuable water resource. The second facility visited was the trial site used to determine how Australia’s eucalypt forests and woodlands will respond to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate. Tony Haigh the lead researcher spoke about his work which included constructing whole tree chambers to control atmospheric conditions.

The day concluded in a lecture theatre on campus with Ana Rubio speaking about her work on developing environmental management systems  with NSW Oyster Growers. In doing so it confirmed that oyster farming on the estuary is environmentally sustainable, and the adoption of an EMS assisted farmers to further improve their business.  Download presentation (827 k)

Sunday 25th October

The final day of the Spring Tour saw the group visit the headquarters of the Grain Growers Association and the Bread Research Institute (BRI). This visit provided an opportunity for the group to hear about the  history and current developments in the Grain Growers Association.  Download presentation (705 k)

Bruce Lee from the  CSIRO Food Future Flagship, also spoke about new novel grain products, including a low gluten beer. In addition to research in grains he also spoke about leading edge research in the beef industry, involving testis cell transfer in cattle, and the aquaculture industry to enhance breeding. The morning concluded with a presentation on the role of BRI and an inspection of their facilities.  Download presentation (2.7 MB)

The NSW Spring Tour finally concluded with a BBQ lunch provided, and cooked by the Grain Growers Association.

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