The mindset of a young farmer
Charlie’s double degree is currently through distance education at the University of New England in Armidale as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. “I am studying both agriculture and business because I wanted to ensure I could learn about the science behind our production systems as well as ways to manage a business successfully” said Charlie.
Charlie doesn’t believe the old adage, “If it works why change it,” is applicable to the up and coming younger generation of farmers. “The future is about being risk aware, considering future prospects and being innovative where it is practicable and sustainable to do so.”
Passion for innovation
In between farming and fulltime study, Charlie’s other passion is integrating agtech into the family farm.
He has been conducting field research trials and flying a drone to map weeds in fallow paddocks to create spraying prescription for weeds. The drone technology processes imagery using GIS software and algorithms.
“Currently, I am loading prescription maps for individual paddocks into a self-propelled sprayer with individual nozzle control. The aim is to enable a sprayer that is traditionally used for blanket applications to have the capability to target individual weeds. There is the potential of cost savings up to 90% in a fallow situation, dependent upon the conditions when spraying.”
Charlie admits that while agtech will be instrumental in farming over the next fifty years, it is just part of the story.
“What’s important is that it is used in conjunction with other methods such as increasing crop rotation and diversity, limited-till farming, GPS Tramlining, variable rate technologies and strategies to handle chemical resistance,” said Charlie. “There’s no doubt we will see robotic farming integrated on farms in the future, it’s just a matter of time.”
Selling the sizzle
Charlie believes there is a massive opportunity for success and the emergence of a new industry in presenting tech and innovation to producers.
“If innovators can clearly explain the benefits without beating around the bush, presenting the hard facts to producers, uptake of new technologies won’t be an issue” said Charlie.
“Farmers often “look over the fence” but if uptake of technology increases, advances in research are pursued and then the industry receives those benefits.”
Charlie is very thankful to the AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship program which has given him opportunities he never thought possible.
The chance to attend evokeAG. , present to the ANZ Bank Board and take a one-week work placement in the United States have been among the highlights.
During his week placement in the US, he visited agricultural equipment specialists Case IH machinery factory in Racine, Wisconsin, attended the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois and a took part in a Farm Tour at Princeton.
“AgriFutures Australia has assisted in multiple ways so far in my career and I am very thankful for the opportunities that have come my way,” said Charlie.
“Being able to see how our machines are manufactured and attend the Farm Progress Show opened my eyes to what is happening in agriculture on a global scale. The importance of diversifying within your farming portfolio was a valuable lesson learned through the experience.”
According to Charlie: “diversity really is king.”
Back on his own farm, Charlie is preparing for exams and learning about soil fertility, specifically Stokes Law.
Stokes law in soil mechanics is the law that a force that retards a sphere moving through a viscous fluid is directly proportional to the velocity of the sphere, the radius of the sphere, and the viscosity of the fluid.
“The size and type of particles that make up soil is an important factor which determines fertility and ability to support crops and pastures. Having an understanding about soil type and its productive capacity is essential when making any management decision on farm ,” said Charlie.
It’s all in a day’s work for this fourth-generation farmer who works, studies and innovates in his spare time.
For more information on the AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship Program: agrifutures.com.au/horizons