WHILE Esperance graingrower Chris Reichstein has already seen and learnt a huge amount on his 2014 Nuffield Scholarship, perhaps the biggest impact has been on his own farm.
In fact, putting in place systems to allow him to travel to the world’s agricultural powerhouses, learning alongside a group of Australia’s best farmers, has been a defining moment for his business.
The prestigious Nuffield scholarship program allows primary producers to travel the globe, studying a topic of interest to themselves and of importance to industry.
The scholarship is run in three distinct phases – the Global Focus Program (GFP) is a sixweek group tour of world agriculture, the Contemporary Scholars Conference is an event involving all active Nuffield scholars from around the world, then finally Australian scholars travel for a further 10 weeks drilling down into their individual topics.
Chris departed for the GFP at the start of March and returned in mid-April, ready for seeding his winter crop.
“We’re currently putting in the crop and then I’m hoping to head off on my own individual study in mid-July – I’m not sure how long I’ll go away for, whether I’ll do the full ten weeks or try and break it up into two sections, it just depends on how the season pans out at home,” he said.
Chris is using his GRDC-supported scholarship to research how farmers learn, with the aim of extracting more value from research and development investment through better extension techniques.
Whatever the outcomes of his individual study however, Chris says he has already gained a huge amount from his Nuffield scholarship.
“One of the best things has been actually putting the processes and systems in place so I could be away from the farm and have it run really efficiently - that in itself has been a huge plus for the farm, regardless of anything I actually learn on my Nuffield travels,” he said.
Chris believes the key to improved farm management in his absence was having the right people in place.
“It’s not just about employees on the farm, but also getting the right outside people, whether it be farm advisors or agronomists, and getting someone to do the book-keeping/business side of it while I was away.
“We’ve also adopted modern communication systems, such as Skype, DropBox and GIS Kit – all of those smart tablet technologies enable better communication.
“It has definitely changed my farming systems for the future – I now put greater trust in key people on the farm and give greater delegation.”
Once the crop is in the ground, Chris is looking forward to his individual travel, with Argentina, Brazil, the USA, Ireland and Africa all on the itinerary.
To keep up to date with the latest from Chris and other Nuffield scholars, follow @nuffieldaust on Twitter and #nuffieldag and like Nuffield Australia on Facebook.
Applications for the 2015 Nuffield Australia scholarship program run through to June 30, 2014, for travel in 2015.
There will be up to 25 scholarships offered by Nuffield Australia, sponsored by a range of Australia’s leading primary sector organisations – for more information and selection guidelines please visit www.nuffield.com.au, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (03) 5480 0755.