“The program highlighted the role producers have to play in the future of the planet and our industry,” Angus said. “It’s an amazing program, and I’m humbled to have been a part of it.”
In addition to a host of formal training sessions during the year, Angus’ main focus was to support the delivery of Project Pioneer. Since 2016, Project Pioneer helped more than 100 family grazing business throughout the Great Barrier Reef catchment increase and maintain ground cover and improve water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef, while fostering profitable and resilient production systems.
Throughout the program Angus was involved in on-ground extension activities, delivering professional guidance, mentoring and facilitation with senior advisors from RCS and partner organisations like WWF, Central Queensland University and NRM groups.
With Project Pioneer emphasising the systems-based nature of agriculture and how everything is interlinked, this meant a dramatic learning curve for Angus. Farm management software, satellite mapping, profit benchmarking, management accounting, monitoring points, soil tests, and matching stocking rate to carrying were just some of the skills delivered to producers in Project Pioneer.
Everything’s linked, but the strongest link is people
Angus’ experience has emphasised that despite farmers’ affinity for the land, animals or crops, the biggest driver of economically and ecologically successful farms is people. “Not coming from a farming background, I’ve was surprised by how passionate and diverse the agriculture and extension industry is. The producers and professionals I’ve been lucky enough to work with are grounded, open, and excited to be making a change,” Angus explained. “It was inspiring to be surrounded by people taking action and sharing their story.”
“Working with people was a real highlight of the year. I was able to build valuable skills in communication, organisation and working collaboratively, and none of this would have been possible without the enthusiasm of the professionals I worked with from a diverse range of backgrounds who were so generous in sharing their knowledge.” While Angus was inspired to work with people, its what’s under their feet that he was just as excited about.
“I would love to see every Australian dig a hole and get curious about soil,” Angus enthused. “Soil holds the wealth of our nation and is the key to our future. Soil is an area for everyone to get curious about and start discussing and sharing their stories and what they’re learning.”
Which brings us back to that question. How do we support both sides of the fence?
“What really drives it home is a picture like that fence line. I think Project Pioneer was a great success and I hope the wider community, funders, and other graziers in the reef catchment can see the impacts.”