AgriFutures - AGenda newsletter - Issue 15

Welcome to the August issue of AGenda,

This week we mark the beginning of National Science Week. The annual celebration provides us with the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Australian scientists to the world of research and knowledge. The Week also aims to encourage an interest in science pursuits among the general public, and to encourage younger people to be fascinated by the world we live in. 

Encouraging careers in STEM and helping young people uncover the diverse career opportunities in agriculture is a large focus of ours and is something Michael Beer, AgriFutures Australia's General Manager, Business Development talks about in his opinion piece below. If we want to address our sector's labour shortages, we need to be turning our focus to a new workforce of people that aren’t currently connected to our industry.

We also amplify the incredible findings of two researchers who are working to grow the vanilla and seaweed industries in Australia. New techniques to grow the industries could be absolutely game-changing in the near future.

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Late bloomer scientist uses grant to grow vanilla

It takes three years for the orchid to reach flowering stage. Once this happens, the flower must be hand-pollinated and growers typically have a few hours to get this done. It's a labour-intensive, daunting task.

Julie Sosso, one of the recipients of the inaugural AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant, shares her experiment to produce vanilla using an entirely different approach.

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John Statton with asparagopsis taxiformis in holding tanks at Watermans Bay, WA.

Why aren’t more cows eating seaweed?

Asparagopsis is a native Australian seaweed rich in bromoform. It’s the bromoform compound within the seaweed feed supplement that reduces livestock methane emissions by up to 98 per cent. So why isn’t Asparagopsis a commodity of large scale?

One of the key issues is its availability. Dr John Statton is the lead researcher of a project looking at developing cultivation techniques to reliably produce Asparagopsis seed stock.

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Michael Beer, AgriFutures Australia, General Manager, Business Development

Calling out for a new workforce to solve agriculture's labour shortages

"Agriculture in 2022 is so much more than farming, and this is something we have to get better at communicating."

According to Michael Beer, AgriFutures Australia's General Manager, Business Development, it's important we help the workforce understand it’s not too late to commence a career in agriculture and the opportunities to make a difference are endless.

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Tichaona Pfumayaramba

A suite of new agronomy and farming systems projects for the rice industry

Five new research projects focusing on rice agronomy and farming systems are underway to assist the Australian rice industry to reach a water productivity target of 1.5 tonne per megalitre within five years.

Tichaona Pfumayaramba, better known as Tich, has recently joined the AgriFutures Australia team to oversee the portfolio of new research projects.

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Growing Australia's fingerlime industry

Growing fingerlimes is not for the faint hearted. At one point, Jade King actually considered wearing welding gloves to harvest the native citrus fruit

The Queensland-based fingerlime producer has recently been awarded a Nuffield Scholarship, supported by our AgriFutures Emerging Industries Program, to help grow this emerging industry

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Water quality testing tech to deliver fast, cost-effective solution for pork industry

“Water quality varies widely across farms, so whenever you're dealing with something that's variable, there's a pretty strong argument for monitoring it closely. On many pig farms, the drinking water system is also used to administer antimicrobials to pigs to maintain their health and welfare. Water pH and other parameters can impact the solubility of various antimicrobial products, and therefore their effectiveness" - Steve Little, Principal, Capacity+ Ag Consulting.

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Thoroughbred horse

An additional source of information for buyers before making purchasing decisions

“Veterinarians can hold disparate views on what a particular x-ray result might ‘mean’ for the horse in question. Our project will collate and analyse pre-sale x-rays from 2014-18, allowing us to increase certainty around the potential impact of commonly found irregularities for both breeders and buyers" - Professor Ben Ahern, AgriFutures Australia Thoroughbred Horses Program funded project, Lead Researcher, The University of Queensland.

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2020 AgriFutures Rural Women's Award Winner Cara Peek

Last chance: secure your ticket for the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner

“This is Australia’s leading award in acknowledging and supporting the essential role women play in rural and emerging business, industries and communities. The event is an important step in acknowledging the contribution of these remarkable and inspiring women. The night is a celebration of their hard work and dedication, and we are looking forward to showcasing their achievements to the nation” - John Harvey, Managing Director, AgriFutures Australia.

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