A PROJECT looking to quantify the benefits of sustainability has been awarded an $8000 bursary in the Spirit of Excellence Awards.
Ruth Sommerville, Spalding, will look at ways productive agriculture and functioning ecosystems can co-exist in a sustainable partnership in broadacre cropping.
Ms Sommerville and husband Damien farm more than 3000 hectares of mainly arable land, growing wheat, barley, canola and oats, in partnership with two other families.
Off farm, she runs a consulting business that provides technical support and management services to projects and groups working on environmental and agricultural research, restoration or management activities.
Winning the 2018 Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship means she can forge ahead with building knowledge and understanding of managing ecosystems to improve productivity.
In particular, to identify and quantify synergies between improving ecological function and the provision of agricultural services.
“I believe for agriculture to be truly profitable and sustainable we need to modify the system so land managers see all aspects of their landscape as providing services, as valuable,” she said.
“That we place a value on having functioning wildlife corridors and water courses; that land managers understand the energy, water and biological cycles on their property and are able to improve the overall resilience of their land and the broader landscape and community that relies on it.”
The scholarship will allow Ms Sommerville to attend the 2018 Australian Wildlife Management Society Conference in Tas in December, where the theme will be 'Integrating wildlife management, nature conservation and production in land, river and seascapes'.
She will also find out more about the Land to Market scheme, a grassroots, farmer-driven market transformation program in NSW that identifies and addresses the need and emerging demand for ecological outcomes verification.
Rural Youth Bursary winner Luke Ramsay, Buckleboo, has a goal to see data management become commonplace in the sheep industry.
A stud operations manager at Karawatha Park Merinos near Kimba, Mr Ramsay’s work sees him involved with data collation and management to complement the stud rams with Australian Sheep Breeding Value.
Mr Ramsay also is building his own data management business to help farmers with recording and managing their sheep flocks with objective measurements.
As part of this he is conducting a sheep data management trial, which aims to demonstrate the improvements that can be made to genetics and profit by using data to assist in ewe selection.
He will use the $5000 Rural Youth Bursary towards developing a precision guide for sheep farmers that will easily record data including fleece, micron and body weight measurements. This valuable data can then be made available by sellers to prospective purchasers.
Already in regular contact with several sheep data management companies in NSW, the win will allow him to take a trip east to observe and learn from existing practices.
Agricultural Bureau of SA chair Mark Grossman says the Bureau is proud to encourage and support rural youth who are working not only in primary production but in careers that sustain rural communities.
“Going by how challenging it was for the judges to decide on the winners this year, the future of agriculture in our state could not be brighter,” he said.
“The standard of applications was the highest we’ve seen and we heartily congratulate all the finalists.”
At the ceremony, grain farmer and industry advocate Tristan Baldock, Buckleboo, was honoured with the 2018 Services to Primary Production Award.
Mr Baldock is heavily involved in the grains industry, contributing to agricultural research and policy to benefit farmers both locally and nationally.
He recently represented Australian grain growers and supported Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud on a visit to Argentina to engage young farmers and ag professionals to develop solutions to strengthen bilateral relationships.
Closer to home, his contributions include managing the Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group’s research, development and extension program. He also is one of the local growers behind the vision to create a community owned multi-user grain facility in Kimba, with the ultimate aim of delivering jobs and better farm gate returns.