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Media release from the Mid North Young Guns
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Monday, September 12, 2016


Mid North Young Guns drive technology adoption



Young sheep farmers in South Australia’s Mid North are benefiting from an innovative new program driving technology adoption on farm.
 
Run by the Mid North Young Guns (MNYG), the Shepno program awarded five scholarships to sheep farmers to trial and demonstrate innovative on-farm technology.
 
The initiative has seen the farmers attend workshops to explore new technologies in the sheep industry such as remote monitoring and GPS and precision agriculture.
 
The second in the series of workshops, which looked into barriers to adopting new technology, was held at Mintaro last month and featured AgriPartner’s Hamish Dickson and Rural Directions’ Patrick Redden.
 
Spalding sheep farmer and Shepno scholar Nat Sommerville said the workshop was fascinating.
 
“Hamish gave us great advice on getting other family members on-board with new projects, which I found really useful for our business,” she said.
 
“He told us we should have a clear objective in mind of what we want to achieve, and that when someone might need a bit of extra convincing to try something new, agreeing to a trial period with an evaluation can really help get them on board.
 
“Patrick provided us with a few different budgets to use in planning projects, including a Making More from Sheep partial budget template that will be really valuable.”
 
Ms Sommerville is using her scholarship funds to investigate the benefits of electric fencing in her sheep enterprise.
 
“I started the project just considering improved pastures, but as I started investigating the options I realised if I chose the right kind of system I could buy something that I could also use on my hilly country.
 
“At the moment I’m looking into the best layouts to try the electric fencing on my native pastures.”
 
The format of the Shepno initiative has been guided by MNYG industry research into the barriers that prevent young farmers from adopting technologies on farm.
 
The team conducted interviews and surveys of 40 young farmers from the Mid North, and found that although a wide range of technologies are being used on-farm, there were significant barriers to adoption which explained why some key technologies had not been widely taken up.
 
Mid North Young Guns Chair Rachel Chirgwin said that the group wanted to help address challenges in adopting new technology.
 
“Producers were asked to comment on the barriers preventing them from adopting technologies. By far the greatest barrier was ‘cost’ with more than 70 per cent of respondents indicating this was inhibiting,” Ms Chirgwin said.
 
Other significant barriers included internet speed, return on investment and data interpretation. Almost one in five respondents (19 per cent) stated that a barrier to new technology adoption was other business members not supporting investment.
 
“It was also interesting to note that none of the producers surveyed are using remote monitoring with wireless internet or decision support software,” Ms Chirgwin said.
 
The most commonly used technologies were pregnancy testing and electric fencing, which were each used by 72 per cent of respondents. These were followed by condition management and fat scoring, fleece micro scanning technologies and electronic tagging.
 
“We used this information to inform the project workshops. In the August workshop we looked at the barriers our producers reported, after our first workshop in April focused on those technologies that our producers haven’t yet taken up,” Ms Chirgwin said.
 
The Shepno project is funded by the SA Sheep Advisory Group, with workshop co-funding from Making More from Sheep.


ENDS
Caption: Mid North Young Guns Scholars are adopting technology on-farm. From left; Dane and Natalie Sommerville, Bradley Wundke, Troy and Nette Fischer, Samantha Neumann, Fiona and Peter McInerney.

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