Pair seek world of ideas

TWO Tasmanians have been awarded Nuffield Scholarships to travel the world to study innovative ideas, techniques and systems that will benefit their businesses and the broader agricultural industry.

Iain Field and Joana Ferreria Mendes were two Tasmanians of the 19 Australians recognised for their innovative thinking in the agricultural space. Iain will use a Nuffield Scholarship to study how to increase ecological literacy and biodiversity on farms for sustainability, supported by the University of Tasmania and JM Roberts Charitable Trust.

“There is growing evidence that biodiversity provides crucial services for sustainable farming,” Mr Field said. “The problem is the mechanisation of agriculture and urban shift has resulted in a decrease in ecological literacy of farmers and the general public. “We have lost our ability to read the landscape and work with nature, impacting on the intertwined pillars of sustainability. “But I also see this as an opportunity. We can enhance farm resilience and sustainability by encouraging farmers to adopt management strategies incorporating biodiversity.”

Iain and his wife Kate started their mixed farming operation Leap Farm in Copping in the state’s southeast, in July 2012. Joana has been awarded a 2023 scholarship to visit key aquaculture-producing countries and bring back insights and innovations to help the Australian industry, supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Joana is a compliance coordinator on a marine salmon aquaculture site in the state’s South, and intends to travel to Norway, Scotland, Canada and Chile.

“Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector in the world,” Ms Ferreria Mendes said. “The farming of Atlantic salmon in Tasmania represents one of the highest value and volume fishery product in Australia. “Although the industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy, some communities and organisations have questioned the sustainability of salmon farming.

“In recent years, the growth and forecast for expansion of salmon farming have been criticised. I see an opportunity for the industry to break through with sustainable ideas to improve the way we farm fish. “The salmon industry is inevitably connected with the environment and its people. It’s important to strengthen this relationship to build a resilient future.”

Nuffield Australia awards scholarships each year to primary producers and people in closely associated industries. The scholarships let Australian producers interact with leading and innovative businesses to find ideas and forge connections that improve our food and fibre value chains, keeping our industry one step ahead