Smart farming for the Future Lynne Strong CCRSPI conference feb 18th 2011
Smart Farming for the FutureDelivering a culture of change Lynne Strong – CCRSPI conference
I wear many hats but first and foremost I am a farmer. 2
Farmers know less than 7% of Australia is suitable for food production We must get this right. Our farmers feed and clothe more than 60 million people worldwideSource: www.dfat.gov.au/facts/env_glanceImage: www.waste2energynow.com 3
And the farmers producingthis food are finding the resources to do so increasingly scarcer & more expensive. 4
We already have most of the tools we need – we just need a “different way of thinking”.Transferring the science into on farm action
The Strong’s hierarchy of needs for the successful transfer of climate science into on-farm action. Firstly, farmers need scientists to be honest about:• What they know and what they don’t know!• What they can and cannot predict.• How it fits into the big pix.
Transferring the science into on farm action Secondly scientists need to be able to:• Distil the climate message into a format that is accessible to the farmers IN A NUTSHELL THEY NEED TO STOP TALKING LIKE SCIENTISTS.• They need to embrace the fact that climate change is not a standalone issue but part of a portfolio of issues that farmers have to deal with.
Transferring the science into on farm actionFarmers need the decision makers to:• Directly involve farmers and their advisors in designing on ground demonstrations of locally relevant research.• Fund and support farmer driven extension - we don’t want to be just told it works we want to see it work.
Extension needs to be local and industry relevant to transfer the science in to farm action. 9 out of 10 farmers learn from other farmers and to do this they need to be able to look over thefence and see the R&D working in their backyard.
CLOVER HILL DAIRIES• My family and I milk 400 cows three times daily on two farms at Jamberoo on the NSW South Coast• Although the farms are located within two kilometres the topography and climate are very different.
KEY FACTS AT A GLANCE• 2x industry average cows grazed per hectare• 5x industry average litres of milk produced per hectare• 10x industry average water use efficiency per hectare• One of Australia’s most water efficient milk production systems producing 35x the industry average of litres of milk per megalitre of water used
LESS IS MOREOur aim is to produce e MORE milk, using FEWER resources, and generating LESS waste 16
CLOVER HILL DAIRIES• The home farm, ‘Clover Hill’ (Farm 1), is 100 ha and is nestled in steep, high conservation value rainforest country on the north east face of Saddleback Mountain.• Our second farm ‘Lemon Grove Research Farm’ PL (Farm 2) was established in 2008 to diversify our enterprise and to undertake agronomic and pharmaceutical research• It has 60ha of alluvial river flats at the head of the sensitive Minnamurra River flood plain and it receives 33% less rainfall than Clover Hill.
The peri-urban landscape challenge• What our 2 dairy businesses have in common is a high urban rural interface.• Clover Hill is part of a dairy centric rural residential subdivision of 12 blocks ranging from 0.4 to 40ha
The peri- urban landscape challenge• Lemon Grove is located adjacent to the Jamberoo Township so not only do the thousand people who live in the village see our farming practices each day so too DO the tens of thousands of people who pass by on the highway each year
Turning challenges into opportunities• Australia’s best farmland is within an easy drive of our major capital cities and urban sprawl is squeezing the agricultural sector.• This demand is reflected in high land prices and is effectively pricing commercial farmers out of the market.
Turning challenges into opportunities• Our proximity to Sydney (we are only 90 minutes from the Sydney CBD) and our coastal location has seen lifestyle farmers pay upwards of $70,000 per hectare for prime agricultural land.• No land has been purchased for commercial agriculture in our region for the last 25 years.• Like all professional farmers we have found ourselves under pressure to increase the size of our business to achieve efficiencies of scale and have limited ability to expand our farm milk production area.• So we have had to adapt - something Aussie farmers are very good at!
Turning challenges into opportunities• Our business saw the challenge of this influx of rural life-stylers as an opportunity and now lease over 75% of the land we farm from these lifestylers.• We have been changing the focus of our business to meet these issues and many others; including climate variability for quite some time…it just requires “a different way of thinking”.
Keys to business success“if I had to run a business on three measures. Those measures would be customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction & cash flow” Jack Welch former CEO of GE 30
Image is everything• At Clover Hill Dairies we started with a mission to “be” the image we want our customers to see.• Our customers want to purchase from farmers who practice the things they value – whether it be animal welfare or environmental protection.
Image must be created and actively managed• Consumers want food that is produced in a way that is consistent with their own personal values.• Our aim has been to develop a highly efficient dairy system on a small acreage that meets or exceeds those consumer expectations.
Less is moreWe started with an environmental and animal welfare impact study. • We select cows that can turn pasture into milk as efficiently as possible • We aim to grow as much pasture as we can graze the optimal no of cows/hectare
Less is moreAnd it works!!!!!• Improving farm efficiency and productivity of pastures in the past 10 years has not only driven profitability; it has enabled us to fence off 50% of our Clover Hill farm for conversation purposes.
SMART FARMING• Firstly we have made a conscious decision to focus on the milk business and stay out of the real estate business and we outsource the expertise we don’t have.• By not owning all our assets we can avoid the pitfalls of 90% of small and medium size businesses who fail because of poor cash flow
THE LANDSCAPE IS DYNAMIC• Already over 80% of farming land in our region is owned by lifestyle farmers - so the opportunity to lease prime agricultural land improves day by day• Our farming business is not unique. Increasingly farmers of the future in many of Australia’s prime agricultural areas are going to find themselves having small landholders as neighbours.
1900 small farms!!!!!! 91% of Agricultural $Comes from dairying Just 20 farms!!!!
Cross community partnerships to ensure a social licence to operate and a right to farm
Don’t worry you Mmh this organic wont even notice in fertiliser may be a couple of days good for the and the grass will be environment but it’s all green and lush. a bit on the nose .Always be prepared to stand in the their shoes Anticipate and work though potential issues 69
‘Farm Ready Tools for Sustainable Dairying in HighConservation Value Landscapes’
Objectives• Deliver sustainable farming best management practices which also enhance high conservation value native vegetation on Saddleback Mt, Jamberoo• Encourage stakeholder partnerships to undertake invasive weeds control to improve connectivity and integrity of native vegetation including Endangered Ecological Communities
Objectives cont....Increase capability & adoption of FBMP by trialling new perennial pasture systems to show they can:• be adapted to local conditions to reduce soil acidification• increase soil carbon by comparing a legume and herb based pasture system to a traditional grass based pasture on rotation of kikuyu and annual rye grass in a coastal environment.
What we will achieve• provide guidelines to establishment of these pastures• quantify some of their benefits• identify strengths and weaknesses of the new pasture system and• give rise to pertinent tools for Australian dairy (and other grazing) farmers accessible through on farm and web based learning opportunities.
Extension needs to be local and industry relevant to transfer the science in to farm action. 9 out of 10 farmers learn fromother farmers and to do this theyneed to be able to look over the fence and see the R&D working in their backyard.
Objectives cont• Engage & facilitate youth participation in NRM through extension activities and web materials to motivate stakeholders to adapt to dynamic natural systems.
We outsource the expertise we dont have .Our experts includefarm management, NRM and social science gurus
Building lifelong relationsbetween rural providers and urban consumers
BEYOND THE FARMGATEThis is how it works• We forge partnerships with rural youth and together we design innovative art and multimedia agricultural education and connection programs
BEYOND THE FARMGATE• Dairy Youth Australia Inc is a network of young people who share a passion to tell others about the pivotal role Australian farmers play in feeding the world. Dairy Youth Australia Inc is committed to developing within the broader Australian population a deeper understanding of and greater respect for, the essential role played by Australian farmers in producing food and supporting the nations economy, community and rural amenity.
BEYOND THE FARMGATE• With the support of our funding partners achieve this goal Dairy Youth Australia deliver self managed events and activities which focus on youth, career opportunities, the arts and community – all linked with agriculture• It all started with $50,000 of seed funding from Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry
BEYOND THE FARMGATEOur 2010 Art4Agriculuture initiatives partner with Landlearn NSW and other sponsors and include:1. The Cream of the Crop Competition invites students involved in primary industry and natural resource management studies to create a PowerPoint about a unit of their studies with the chance to win cash prizes for their efforts. The winning entries will be loaded on the web providing contemporary authentic, positive and popular stories about agriculture and the environment written by young people for young people. This initiative is vital as the changes to the way farmers manage their properties have moved much faster than educational resource development.2. The Archibull Prize –invites students in suburban high schools to learn through hands on experience about the challenges of housing and feeding the world with a declining natural resource base. The finished artworks and curriculum activities must explore and communicate contrasting stories about the future of agriculture in their local area under the theme "Love it Or Lose
Why this demographic• Too often the next generation feel they have no connection with agriculture• Today’s student are the next generation of consumers and decision makers and our future workforce and they will decide the future for primary industries.• We must provide them with the tools to make the best choices.
HOW OUR PROJECTS WORK• We take our programs out of the classroom and into the streets.• To big events like the Sydney Royal Easter Show• Where the program and its key messages can be seen by tens of thousands of people
Read all about us on our websitewww.dairyyouthaustralia.com.au
MY CALL TO ARMS FOR RESEARCHERS AND FUNDERS• There is a real and growing need to find innovative models to get rural and urban communities working together.• We will increasingly need to forge cross community partnership to ensure farmers have a ‘social license’ to farm.• We need to develop and explore new ways to bring the various community sectors together to capture long term economic and natural resource management outcomes. Your challenge is to develop and test them.
MY CALL TO ARMS FOR FARMERS• We navigate through a whole raft of challenges every day and we will also adapt to this one.• Although we need to primarily focus on our farms and families, we can and must also play our role in educating urban communities about modern farming practices.• We need to show them that responsible agricultural production is a legitimate use of Australia’s land, water and other resources.