Dig this, it’s all go on work for new training centre

WORK to strengthen agricultural training in the state’s North-West has moved forward with progress on an Agricultural Training Centre in Burnie.

A new agreement has also been signed between the University of Tasmania and TasTAFE to enhance research and education outcomes for Tasmania’s agricultural industry. Site work has officially begun on the $5 million Agricultural Training Centre of Excellence at TasTAFE’s Freer Farm on Mooreville Road. The centre will train people for employment and support farmers to up-skill.

Education Minister Roger Jaensch said the facility included a contemporary learning centre, coupled with an education plan to build industry-relevant skills for now and into the future.

Designed by Philp Lighton Architects, stage one of the project is the construction of the learning centre, with AJR Construct set to begin building at the end of May. “The design and layout of the building will allow students to move seamlessly from classroom-based tasks to practical on-farm tasks,” Mr Jaensch said. “It will include learning areas, breakout spaces, a meeting/conference area and exhibition space along with staffrooms. “The Centre of Excellence will be equipped with the latest technology, catering for online and face-to-face learning, as well as industry demonstrations and events.”

Stage one is expected to be completed in early 2023. Stage two will include new and upgraded farm infrastructure including stockyards, protected cropping and farm biosecurity, supporting research and innovation.

Mr Jaensch said collaboration with industry and other education providers was key to the success of the Centre of Excellence. To that end TasTAFE and the University of Tasmania has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will see the two organisations collaborate on agricultural education and training pathways, as well as sharing infrastructure, resources, knowledge and data.

It’s hoped the partnership will help the industry create more jobs and more value for the state as well as highlight the education pathways available to people in the North-West.

Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Director Mike Rose said the Agricultural Research and Training Partnership would support Tasmania’s critical agricultural industry as it worked to increase its farm gate value to $10 billion by 2050. “We are absolutely focused on industry and making sure we are solving their challenges and helping them to succeed,” Prof Rose said. “That means working in partnership to meet the demand for agricultural skills in Tasmania and ensuring industry can easily access the data, knowledge, research and training they need to thrive.”

Through the partnership, TIA and TasTAFE will coordinate and align their strengths in North-West Tasmania. TIA’s Dairy Research Facility at Elliott will focus on dairy and pasture research, TIA’s Vegetable Research Facility at Forthside will focus on production horticulture, and TasTAFE’s new Agricultural Training Centre of Excellence at Freer Farm will focus on beef and protected horticulture. “This will improve access to real world, on-farm data for students and industry,” Prof Rose said.

The partnership comes as the University and the Government are investing in agricultural research and education in Tasmania. University Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black said a $7.8 million upgrade of TIA’s research farms was currently underway. “This increased investment is part of the university’s long-term commitment to the North-West,” Prof Black said. “Our upgraded research farms, together with the developments at Freer Farm, will support many of the region’s most important agricultural and horticultural enterprises.”

The MOU supports the broader goals of the newly formed Tasmanian Agricultural Education and Training Partnership (TAETP) of which TasTAFE and TIA are members.