14 & 15 September 2022
As a new scholar, the Nuffield Regional Tours, provide a short taster to being on tour with Nuffield. They showcase the rich agricultural diversity of a region, highlight leading local businesses, provide the opportunity to visit local scholars on-farm, and there's always a dairy farm visit!
The travel time between stops allows one to sit next to a new person each time, to reflect on visits, discuss new ideas and learn about research topics, backgrounds and passions. And as was evident across the two-day regional tours in Tamworth, one could apply the framework shared by Dan Richards from the Irish CSC.
Genetics creates the potential
Management realises the potential
Disease destroys the potential
The key was seeing where management had realised the potential; what processes and systems they had put in place, and what were they doing to make them stand out from the rest, to build the business, and to define success.
Inspecting cattle for sale at the historic Goonoo Goonoo Station
Wednesday kicked off with a visit to the historic sale ring at Goonoo Goonoo Station ahead of the 3R Angus & Ultra Black Bull and Females Sale. Goonoo Goonoo Station, owned by the Haggarty family, south of Tamworth is also home to luxury accommodation and a stunning restaurant on this working cattle station. For the first time in 37 years the historic selling ring at the station was back in use with the 3R Sale on 14 September. Before the buyers arrived, we had the opportunity to learn about 3R's vision to "produce cattle with genetics with superior function in a real-world production environment, producing a beef product that consumers enjoy", and inspect the sale animals.
For those interested, the 2022 Sale results were a 100% clearance for both the bulls and Pregnancy Tested in Calf (PTIC) females. The bulls averaged $14,588 with a top price of $30,000, and the females averaged $3,642 with a top of $4,400.
Our next stop was to Killara Feedlot owned and managed by Elders. Killara is west of Quirindi providing great access to not only livestock for finishing but also grain and feed supplements. The feedlot is licenced for 20,000 head with a range of cattle to suit both domestic and export markets on both grain feeding programs from 70 to 500 days depending on markets, as well as grass feeding programs.
Visiting the property of 1998 Nuffield Scholar, Dave Brownhill, was a highlight. Merrilong Pastoral Company is run by the Brownhill brothers across 8,000ha and includes irrigated and dryland farming with wheat, sorghum, mungbeans, chickpeas, fababeans, cotton, and Angus cattle. Their corporatised approached to family farming has seen many efficiencies gained, strengths built on, additional investment and increased diversity. Interesting to note that due to their crop diversity there's only four weeks of the year they're not sowing!
Upgraded ginning machinery operating in the Carroll Cotton Gin
The Carroll Cotton Gin has been servicing the Liverpool Plains for over 20 years after being established in 1995 by the Davies family. It is one of the few family-owned cotton gins in Australia with Scott Davies, together with his wife and Mum, still running the gin today. Their mission is simple; "to work closely with growers to deliver a customised ginning service through world's best practice and market expertise". And it's that world's best practice that we saw in touring the gin after recent upgrades which have increased the ginning capacity. Not only are they using the best in American ginning equipment, the Cherokee, but they are experimenting with the old ginning equipment to process hemp and hemp/cotton blends in industry trials.
Thursday saw two completely different visits, and very different to Wednesday's! First on the agenda was a tour of Thomas Foods Lamb Abattoir. Thomas Foods is a vertically integrated global food business growing, processing and supplying quality meat and seafood. We were given a full tour beginning at the automatic robots that sort, pack and move the cartons based on barcodes, through the processing floor, the holding pens, the rendering plant and biogas facility. With 900 staff across two shifts, Thomas Foods is a major employer in the wider Tamworth region.
Before we all headed to Tamworth Airport to take the afternoon flights across the country, we called into Peel Valley Milk's processing factory. The Wilson's began dairying more than a 100 years ago, and today they bottle 23,000 litres of their own Jersey cows' milk under their own label producing whole milk, reduced fat, three flavours, and unhomogenised milk. And the milk just so happens to be coming from a top performing herd with an Australian Grand Champion!
As someone who has organised countless school excursions and tours, there's no denying the time and effort that it takes to organise a tour, particularly one that visits multiple farms and agriculture businesses, and has a wide range of participants. Huge thanks to 2013 Nuffield Scholar Guy Hebblewhite, the Nuffield NSW State Committee, and Nuffield Australia team for their work in pulling this together!
Aimee Snowden is currently undertaking a 2023 Nuffield Australia Scholarship to explore immersive education and engagement models around the world.
My Nuffield Scholarship would not be possible without the generous support of Nuffield Australia and AgriFutures Australia who have invested me.
|Little Brick Pastoral||