TASMANIAN agriculture is booming as highlighted by the Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group’s annual awards for Excellence in Agriculture presented at Hagley Farm School.
About 70 leaders and representatives of major processing companies, senior government, and departmental figures along with representatives of all sectors of the education and training sector joined the AGM industry forum.
Primary Industries and Water Minister Guy Barnett presented his annual address to members and presented awards.
A highlight of the program was the presentation of the TAPG Annual Awards for Excellence.
In presenting the awards with Mr Barnett, TAPG chairman Mark Kable said while he was delighted that such excellent awardees were being recognised he was concerned by the void in experience and intellectual property being created by their retirement.
“Their level of experience and skill is going to be difficult to fill,” Mr Kable said.
He sighted Dr Bill Cotching, Dr John McPhee and Peter Aird as great contributors to agriculture.
“These three have been the backbone of the vegetable industry in the North-West with significant influence across all of Tasmania and mainland Australia,” Mr Kable said.
The fourth award was presented to Caitlin Radford who received the Young Entrepreneur Award in recognition of her work in promoting agricultural careers to other young people in a range of both formal and informal settings.
Caitlin also received the Australian Apprentice of the Year Award in 2020 and is share farming on the North-West coast.
This was the inaugural presentation in this award category.
Mr Kable said Caitlin was an outstanding young farmer who satisfied all criteria for this award to the highest degree.
During the industry forum, participants heard from Holly Hansen who outlined the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency structure; Andrew Harris who outlined TAPG’s education and training initiatives; and Michael Rose who provided insight into TIA’s move to the north and the restructure of its statewide service delivery.
The closing message to the forum was the need for the agriculture industry to collaborate on projecting the desirability of a career in agriculture to young people as they plan their future employment.
Mr Barnett said each of the award winners had made significant contributions to the sector and highlighted the value of implementing precision agriculture techniques and practices, as well as the importance of supporting and educating the next generation of farmers.
“We know precision agriculture techniques are a gamechanger for farmers,” he said.
“It includes technology advancements in satellite technology, mapping, automation, sensors, data collection and processing.”
Precision agriculture offers the prospect of increasing crop yields while reducing input costs, maintaining the environmental asset base, and providing improvements in efficiency.
It has the potential to increase agricultural productivity and economic returns while reducing carbon emissions.
TAPG’s annual Precision Agriculture (Innovation) Expo, run in collaboration with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and other partners, has grown to become a key event on the agricultural calendar.