Southern ‘Carbon Bus’ Tour Participant Testimonials

Heidi Brunker – Sefton & Associates

Another fantastic and successful Carbon Bus Tour. With an environment and landscape so very different from the northern tour, we were once again treated to insights, discussions and key learnings from the experts in the fields of on and off farm adaptation and mitigation in relation to climate change.

Day one of the tour was jam packed with knowledge knowledge knowledge. We learnt of issues, adaptations, prediction models, CFI and emissions in relation to southern production, cropping, elevated CO2 levels, livestock production, and much more. DemoDAIRY put on a smashing day as we walked the site to review the nitrous oxide emissions research being conducted there. Very interesting…and exceedingly lush and green.

Day two saw us in Hamilton with an enlighten and inspiring day with the combined knowledge and generosity of Snow Barlow, Richard Eckard and our Jigsaw Farm hosts.

With the mantra of ‘managing the unavoidable and avoiding the unmanageable’ Mark Wootton and Eve Kantor (Jigsaw Farms) have established a farm that is carbon neutral (or even carbon positive) and climate ready. Their farm business is an exemplary example of a farming business that recognises the need for Australian agriculture to adapt and mitigate in order to survive and they are putting that need and the knowledge that they have gained through rigorous research into practise. Very successfully!

All in all an amazing trip.

I would encourage you to check out the blogs below from the participants to get their first-hand account of the tour and the benefits that they received as a result of jumping on board the Carbon Bus.

A big thank you to Snow Barlow, Kiri Broad, all the participants and our speakers (Rob Asselman – Climate Friendly (Mycfi.com.au), Russell Pattinson – Miracle Dog P/L, Harm van Rees – Cropfacts, Glenn Fitzgerald – AGFACE, Mark Woottonand Even Kantor – Jigsaw Farms, Graeme Ward – DEPI, Professor Richard Eckard – Uni of Melb, Stephanie Muir – DEPI, Jade Killoran and Jon Midwood – Southern Farming Systems, Kath Fidler –DemoDAIRY).

If you feel as though you have missed out on a great opportunity by not applying to come with us, don’t worry as you can also catch a ‘virtual tour’ video with highlights from the tour on our YouTube channel  or take a look at all of the presentations on the ‘What’s Happening’ page of the Young Carbon Farmers website.

Kiri Broad, FFN Director

The first week of spring saw the second round of Young Carbon Farmers descend on Geelong, ready to board the Carbon Bus. This time, the destination was mid-western Victoria, visiting a dairy, fertiliser trial plots and mixed a mixed farming enterprise. To begin with we had a welcome dinner and meet and greet with participants, where it was obvious that we had a very diverse group of people joining us for the week. After travelling to Victoria from western Queensland, it was also a bit of a shock to see so much green!! My eyes had a bit of trouble adjusting to so many shades of one colour!

Day 1 on the bus began with a trip to Demo Dairy at Terang. While the speakers were interesting, I also found it very interesting to hear how Demo Dairy works. It is actually a cooperatively run farm, which is then leased out to the DPI or researchers to undertake their work. As a DAFF beef extension officer, that really got me excited that there may be ways in the future to use this sort of agreement more as more and more of our research infrastructure gets sold. This is definitely a win for research outcomes in the dairy/ag industry in Victoria.

Talks inside on the first day covered topics such as southern farming systems overview and a look at these in the future under various climate change scenarios, nitrous oxide emissions research, livestock emissions research and cropping systems research. It was a great and varied overview of southern industries. This was then followed by a walk around the dairy (and a good dose or dairy fresh air!) and a look at the pasture emissions site, with their nifty little sampling boxes. There was also what I can only describe as the most high tech donga I have ever seen! Very misleading from the outside…

After another road trip to Hamilton, dinner was at a local restaurant where we also had a talk from Richard Eckard on the future of agricultural production and how we fit in a world that is increasing in population and therefore increasing protein requirements. It brought up some good questions about how we can meet these demands, especially if we don’t curb the projected climatic changes.

After an early night, it was back on the Carbon bus and out to Jigsaw Farms to have a look at their mixed farming business. Yet again, my eyes hurt at the sight of so much green grass! It was great to see that Mark and Eve take a lot of pride in their property and grazing land management.

After a quick chat inside about their management and where they have come from, to get to where they are, it was back on the carbon bus to see it in the flesh! Before we got out the door though, Mark put a quote up on the board which really resonated with me: The challenge of climate change is managing the unavoidable and avoiding the unmanageable. I think this is a great way to view managing a property, whether you are a cane farmer, a grazier, a viticulturalist or anyone else on the land. It’s not just climate change but variable weather in general that must be managed every day and season in farming and to keep this at the forefront of your mind can put you ahead of the game, as it has obviously done for Jigsaw Farms.

At Jigsaw we looked at their tree plantations and discussed the use of these as both carbon sequesters and also a secondary income source. We also looked at their inclusion of wetlands and naïve tree plantations to manage biodiversity outcomes, so theirs is truly a holistic enterprise.  And after a wonderful tour, including delicious smoko from the back of the cruiser ute, discussions under a 500 year old gum tree, a delicious lunch and wonderful views and learnings as we went along it was back on the bus.

A quick stop on the way home to discuss fertiliser trials and nitrous oxide emissions research, we made it back to Geelong.

Day 3 was a workshop at the hotel, pulling out the key learnings from the tour and brainstorming/generating ways to disseminate the learnings of the tour and how to fill any learning gaps.

After 3 days with these Young Carbon Farmers, all I can say is, look out wide world, you’re about to have your head filled with information we already have and answers for questions we are yet to even think of!

Sean O’Hare

The SSean O'Hareouthern Carbon Tour was an eye opening experience for me as a person who has immense passion for sustainable agriculture and protection of our environment. The different speakers provided extensive information regarding our global environment, methods of improving our carbon footprint on farms as well as proven techniques for implementation of these methodologies.

The integration of such an array of intelligent minds gave impetus to high-grade discussions transpiring in significant direction for those involved.

From my perspective, the learnings that unfolded during the course of this tour will assist greatly in my future endeavours in agriculture.

                                                 An engaging experience that will always stay with me.

Louise Pearce 

Louise PearceCarbon Farming was a term that I had heard, I knew was important to future agriculture but my knowledge was limited. I wanted to know more and I wanted to be involved. The opportunity to attend the Southern Carbon Bus Tour answered many of my questions and opened my eyes to the future direction of agriculture and of course allowed me to gain some valuable networks with fellow agricultural professionals just as interested in the carbon farming future as I was.

 

Ben Anderson

Ben Anderson

The carbon bus tour was a good experience to see how the leaders in their fields are going about the growing issue of climate change.  The most relevant presentation to me was jigsaw farms. They showed that almost anything is possible with good management and financial backing. The other presentations were also good to gain more knowledge in the different areas.

 

 

 

Tadro Abbott

The SoutTadro Abbotthern Carbon Bus Tour was a great experience. The tour focused on the science of climate change, its effects on farming systems and the opportunities for farmers to do something about it.

Topics covered included nitrogen use efficiency, nitrogen inhibitors, ruminant methane reduction, effects of elevated CO on crop growth, sustainable uses for poor quality land and risk management in a more variable climate. The presentations showed that the issues facing humanity around climate change and food security are extremely complex, but there is a large amount of hope and optimism that we can meet that challenge.

Presentations were given by various experts in their field who were open and supportive of us as young people in agriculture. There was a real sense that it wasn’t they who would be solving the challenges facing the world, but the current generation of young people – farmers and researchers. They really encouraged us to take the current research and put it into practice, keep learning and optimise our operations to prepare for a new climate.

This tour gave me a new network of like-minded people from a wide range of regions and backgrounds to go forward with this struggle facing us all.

 Anais Gschwind

Anais Gschwind

As a young person who is extremely concerned about the challenges climate change poses to the world, particularly the agricultural industry, I was excited to join The Southern Carbon Bus Tour. Over four days we had the opportunity to hear from and talk candidly with leaders in the field about how carbon farming may help agriculture adapt to a changing climate.  We visited some world-class examples of carbon farming in action and heard from farmers on the ground that are improving their productivity and reducing their emissions by changing their practices.

The tour provided an invaluable insight into the seemingly complex policies and methodologies of carbon farming as well the science informing it. The time spent together was also a great chance to share experiences and learning with other young farmers who will be leading the way as we attempt to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change and feed the world’s population.

 Tim Madigan

Tim Madigan

The tour was fantastic. On applying for this tour I was not too sure what I might have been getting into and if there was going to be any benefit. I found every part of the tour beneficial, right from the explanation of the Carbon Farming Initiative through to the application and trials that have been set up. Being from a farm the tour around the Jigsaw Farms identity was my highlight of the tour. It was great to see so much passion and involvement from all parties and every part of their business was another part of the “jigsaw” puzzle.

 

 

Jemma Pearl

Jemma Pearl

The Young Carbon Farmers Southern Tour was an insightful trip, looking at interesting research projects, while also visiting farmers and producers at the forefront of the innovation, all with a group of like-minded young people.

The whole trip was well thought out and managed enable us to gain the most out of the experience. Being able to have a greater understanding of the exact research being undertaken in this area is a great help to me in trying to decide if I what to peruse a career in research. While others on the trip did not have a university science education I believe that the researches adequately explained the process in simple terms enabling everyone to gain the most out of the experience.

Thank you to Heidi and Kiri for their amazing organisation skills and insight throughout the trip, and Future Farmers Network and Sefton and Associates for running the event.

 Bezaye

Bezaye

For an African professional woman who is passionate and concerned for farmers and the changing climate, opportunities like this are essential in showing the possibility of dealing climate issues with farmers and professionals. Being one of the participants who are concerned about the changing climate and counted themselves as ready to contribute to the mitigation efforts was timely.

The networking with people of a similar concern and passion was fun and gives more energy to move forward.

When I applied to take part in the tour I was determined because I needed it and had the desire to see the science in action.

My key learnings:

  • understanding the ground truth on the possibility of carbon farming expressed in farmers terms;
  • knowing the existence of different initiatives like young carbon farmers towards reducing carbon emission and increasing carbon capture as one of the promising bridge between science and action;
  • the impression of integrating adaptation and mitigation which should work in parallel for sustainable future;
  • the importance of encouraging and engaging young farmers for the future sustainability and the networking with like-minded people were all far important.

In general, it was a good highlight on the possibility of farming carbon and its practicality, which is so relevant to my professional journey in a way to aim big and believe on the practicality of climate change mitigation through carbon farming at local scale. The experience was so amazing and the tour toured well.

 Elizabeth Thelander

Elizabeth Thelander

On September 1st through to the 4th I was privileged to be able to take part in the Southern Carbon Bus Tour. It all started in Geelong where we were introduced to the Carbon Farming Initiative and this became the light bulb moment for some of us where this whole carbon thing came into perspective.

The next day involved loads of speakers on the changes in weather patterns that we may have to face if changes are not made, methane and a tour of the Demo Dairy including all the trial sites where they measure the emissions from pasture. That night we got to meet Richard, who is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to carbon farming and the research behind it.

Day 3 introduced us to Jigsaw Farms and the incredible real life example of carbon farming at its best. It was amazing to see so much of what had been discussed in the past couple of days in action and at its finest on these properties.

The trip overall was full of people so rich in knowledge, it really opened my eyes to changes we can make and ways we can help make a difference. It was so well planned and we were able to make some contacts, hoping that we can all take what we learnt on the tour out into our own communities and spread the word!

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