In days gone by, we perceived the farmer as somebody who wore many hats – part veterinarian, part climate forecaster, part accountant and part soil biologist, amongst a long list of other jobs. But the reality of contemporary agriculture is so much more than this Jack- or Jill-of-all-trades stereotype.
Farming is a highly specialised scientific field. There is a vast integration of technology and advanced research into the science of agriculture, which enables high-quality, safe and sustainable food to be produced for our nation and beyond. Today’s farmer has an extensive network of experts who can supplement and enhance their farming business to ensure the safety and sustainability of their product and their land.
Quoting the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”, the same can be said about farming. A successful farmer is not alone on their land. They have a web of professionals. In fact, there is a national and international web of professionals who support farmers.
More than 1.6 million people work in Australian agriculture. Farmers today understand and appreciate that 82 per cent of these people are not on farms, but are in careers that support the farm gate.
Here are just a few examples:
- A Western Australian wheat grower can call upon research scientist Calum Watt to understand how future varieties of wheat will be more drought tolerant.
- A Tasmanian dairy farmer can consult with agronomist Dwayne Schubert to discuss how precision agriculture can reduce fertiliser use.
- In the Riverina, another agronomist Emma Ayliffe helps take the latest cutting edge cotton technology from trials to the paddock.
- In Canberra, Laura Phelps works with the Australian government to develop policy to benefit agricultural exports, and in Brisbane Kirsty McCormack markets Australian beef to Asia.
- Farmers in Cambodia who learn from PhD student Anika Molesworth can benefit from the agricultural knowledge developed here in this sunburnt land.
Agriculture is a complex web of professionals that are contributing to a greater whole and supporting the farmer on the land. Agriculture is full of exciting and dynamic careers and there is a role for everyone in the sector.
Let’s invite the best and the brightest into this web of professionals.
This blog is a reprint of a blog I wrote for The Australian Farmer found here
My next blog in this series will reflect on the complexity of the Australian farming landscape
What comes to mind when you think of the Australian agriculture landscape
Are you like author Tana French
I wished I knew more about Australia. I thought of red earth and sun that hit you like a shout, twisted plants stubborn enough to pull life out of nothing, spaces that could dizzy you, swallow you whole.
or like me and think of lush green hills and rolling valleys and black and white cows full of milk making their way to the dairy
Australia is a vast place this quote from Andrew Campbell Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is very sobering
“If the world was your farm, Australia is not your best paddock, in fact there aren’t many worse” – Andrew Campbell.