FutureAg Expo wrap-up

Vic Drought Hub - Farmland 1

Right workforce enhances overall resilience of ag sector

By Grace Hosking, Senior Manager Extension & Communications, Vic Hub North-West Node, Birchip Cropping Group

 

Last week’s FutureAg expo was a great conference, that left me feeling optimistic about the future of ag:

 

  • Panel Mick Fuller-National People Lead-Dairy Aust Kayla Evans-Project Mgr AGCAREERSTART NFF Grace HoskingThe number of emerging technologies showcased at the event highlighted the transformative potential of innovation in this sector. These advancements will no doubt revolutionise the way we approach farming – particularly in the context of mitigating the impact of droughts.
  • A key aspect of the event was emphasising how technology can effectively drought-proof farms by empowering farmers with tools to enhance efficiency and resilience. For example, advancements in precision-ag technology allow for more economically efficient and sustainable fertiliser and chemical usage.
  • It really highlighted the pivotal role of quality data in driving decision-making processes. As emphasised during the conference, knowing your numbers as a grower can be a game-changer, enabling better-informed choices across various facets of the agricultural business.
  • Another prominent theme that emerged from the event was the ongoing dialogue surrounding carbon emissions and sustainability. It’s evident that there’s still much work to be done in gaining clarity and implementing effective strategies in this crucial area, however, it’s great to see industry discussing the opportunities and challenges head-on and striving towards more sustainable practices.
  • It reinforced the importance of collaboration and innovation in harnessing tech and more sustainable practices.

 

The panel discussion I was involved in focused on recruiting and managing staff in agriculture. It was refreshing to see a spotlight on the importance of retention, and the need to promote the appeal of working in this diverse and innovative industry. It was highlighted that by fostering a supportive and enticing work environment, we can attract more talent to contribute to the ongoing growth and development of agriculture and therefore better prepare for and respond to the impacts of drought, ultimately enhancing the overall resilience of the agricultural sector.

 

Brad Fischer, a dairy farmer from Meningie West, who also sat on the panel, had some refreshing thoughts on the importance of prioritising human capital within a farm business. His perspective focused on the concept of building long-term sustainability within agriculture. By investing in the wellbeing and development of employees, farmers such as Brad are not only ensuring the success of their operations in the short term, but laying the foundation for resilience against future challenges – including drought.

 

Fiona presenting VicHub Vic Hub’s value to farming system groups

Vic Hub Regional Director, Fiona Best, who’s also CEO of our North-West Node, Birchip Cropping Group, gave an excellent presentation on the model that BCG – and grower groups more generally – operate on.

 

The importance of localised research in understanding and responding to the specific challenges faced by farmers in different regions was outlined, as well as the significance of the Vic Hub in supporting BCG to provide farmers with targeted solutions and strategies. It was recognised that a localised approach not only enhances the relevance and applicability of the research findings, but also empowers farmers with actionable insights that they can implement on their farms.

 

Fiona also highlighted the importance of timely and valuable information dissemination to farmers. By ensuring that research findings and practical recommendations are communicated effectively to farmers, adoption can be fast tracked at a local level to ideally enhance drought resilience.

 

The engaged response from the audience – as evidenced by the numerous questions raised during and after the presentation – reflected the recognition within the audience of the importance of collaborative efforts, localised research and effective knowledge dissemination in building resilience to drought and other challenges.