#AgDayAU spotlight on researchers
In the lead up to National Agriculture Day this Friday, November 20, the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation – a collaborative research alliance between Charles Sturt University and the NSW Department of Primary Industries – invited some of its researchers to share why primary industries inspires them.
There’s opportunity in agriculture
Dr Michael Campbell is a livestock producer and researcher who is passionate about supporting young people in the industry.
“Agriculture is the place to be,” he said. “Every person and every country in the world is involved with agriculture. Research is dynamic, each day there are new problems that need to be solved and many are complex – especially in agriculture.
“Without innovations teams – farmers, researchers, students, industry professionals – agricultural industries will not be able to adapt to change and keep progressing.”
Dr Campbell has this message to share ahead of National Agriculture Day: “I love working and living in agriculture, it has provided myself and my family with so many opportunities to travel, meet exciting people and, at the end of the day, produce highly nutritious food for the population while directly managing the environment on our farm. How good is that?
“Agriculture needs you. If you’re finishing high school and considering what to do career-wise, consider agriculture. No experience necessary, just enthusiasm, and you’ll go places.”
Making a difference
Charles Sturt University student Kayla Kopp is from the Central West of NSW and has a strong appreciation for the work of farmers in providing food and fibre.
“Growing up on a sheep and cropping property, I have always been involved in agriculture,” she says. “It’s such an important industry, providing food and clothing for people around the world. I love being involved in an industry which has a profound effect on daily life.”
Kopp has been able to combine her interest in livestock production, a thirst for knowledge and a desire to make a difference in her PhD study.
“My research is focusing on lamb survival, with the biggest driver of my research being my passion for the sheep industry and increasing profitability on farm,” she says. “I love making a difference to farmers’ and animals’ lives.”
Beyond the farm gate
Charles Sturt University Professor Chris Blanchard is a molecular biologist and leads the Graham Centre’s research investigating grain quality and functional foods, to increase the value of Australian grain.
“Sometimes we forget that the aim of agriculture is to produce food and fibre,” Professor Blanchard says. “Food scientists take the raw ingredients from agriculture and produce food products that are desired by consumers.”
Professor Blanchard is a firm advocate of this paddock-to-plate approach.
“Increasingly, consumers what to know where their food comes from,” he says. “They want to make sure it’s produced in a safe and sustainable way.
“By tracking our food from paddock to plate, consumers can be confident that the attributes of the food they eat are aligned with their values and expectations.”
Professor Blanchard has a simple message for anyone planning a special #AgDayAU lunch: “Choose food that’s Australian-made and support our local industries.”
Here for the long haul
John Piltz is a livestock research officer at the NSW Department of Primary Industries working in forage conservation ad feed evaluation.
“Agriculture is the business of producing food, and access to quality food is a basic need of all people,” he says. “I see my work in agriculture as committing to improving people’s lives.
“I think farmers are interesting, hardworking and committed people, and I enjoy working with them and trying to improve their business.”
Demand for agricultural products is constantly increasing as the world population grows and the standards of living around the world rise. Piltz says research is essential to deliver new technologies that will increase agricultural output for the same or less resources.
“It’s about making agriculture more efficient but also more sustainable,” he says. “Agriculture is here for the long haul; while ever people need food we all need agriculture.”
To help show your support for our farmers and other agricultural superstars, look for the #hatsofftoaussiefarmers and #AgDayAU conversations across social media channels and head to farmers.org.au to get yourself some nifty “I Love Farmers” gear.