Women dominate Australia’s most prestigious agricultural research fellowship for the first time in 75 years

More than two-thirds of the prestigious Nuffield Australia Scholarships 2023 went to women, marking a significant shift in a program that was previously male-dominated.

Nuffield researchers are given $30,000 to travel within Australia and overseas to examine ideas, techniques and systems that could be brought back to Australia.

Of 19 awards, 13 were given to women for studying a wide range of topics ranging from farm productivity, mental health and rural education.

It was the first time that more women than men had received the scholarship in its 75-year history.

Jodie Redcliffe, Managing Director of Nuffield Australia and 2013 Fellow, says women are driving significant change in farming today and the awards recognize it.

“It just goes to show that a lot of agriculture is led by women, either as farmers or wives of farmers, or in agribusiness,” she said.

“We also have agronomists and veterinarians this year, so it’s really us who recognize the vital part that the female side of the brain, [what] the female side of agriculture can bring.”

Ms Redcliffe said the women have brought a different and more collaborative approach to farming and the Nuffield Fellowship.

“I don’t mean to criticize the men at all, but we bring different skills to the table and I think we just need that balance.”

The Nuffield Scholars were announced last night at the Nuffield Australia Annual Awards Night and Nuffield Conference, held in Tamworth, NSW.

Fiona Aveyard from Peak Hill in New South Wales will explore how to add value to the red meat industry. (Supplied: Nuffield Australia)

Fiona Aveyard, a fifth-generation sheep farmer from Peak Hill in New South Wales, says she will use her scholarship money to explore how the red meat industry can add value to her product.

“We are great at what we do and are known as mass exporters of our products, whether in mining or agriculture, but I really think there are opportunities to unbundle the value chain,” he said. she declared.

She said she experienced first-hand the challenge of getting big or getting out, when she and her partner bought neighboring properties to gain economies of scale in her farming business.

“We just found our lifestyle a little degraded by that, in terms of our increased workload…and we decided we couldn’t keep getting bigger.”

Instead, they focused on adding value to their meat by packaging their beef and selling directly to consumers, then producing sausage rolls.

She said it was very nice for the women to get the lion’s share of recognition from Nuffield Australia this year.

“I think it’s fantastic and I applaud Nuffield for showing the role that women play, which perhaps in the 75 year history has not been represented.”

Nicole Logg standing at the banister
Nicole Logg of Barmedman will investigate nutritional options for supplementing sheep diets.(Supplied: Nuffield Australia)

Nicole Logg, a mixed farmer from Barmedmen in the Riverina, works on feed supplements for sheep.

She will study pastures and look for ways to reduce costs and labor for farmers.

This included compounds, nutrients or ingredients that would help sheep digest feed, reduce heat stress and boost their immune system.

“If we can keep moving forward, improving animal health, that’s really the basis of everything, and if it can save us money, it helps the farmer and helps the sheep.”

She said she was excited to travel to other sheep producing countries like New Zealand, Uruguay, Argentina and Spain; and also to be part of this group dominated by women.

“We’re still in a male-dominated industry, but there are some great women leading the way now. It’s great to be part of the journey with all of them.”

2023 Nuffield Scholars

queensland

  • Jarrod’s cook of Stamford, was awarded the Northern Pastoral Scholarship and will investigate the best methods of preparing cattle for feedlot entry to optimize performance
  • Tessa Dimond of St George will gain a global perspective on how Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) affect Australian grain prices and access to international markets
  • Regan Lynch from Hughenden will explore ways to improve on-farm biosecurity attitudes and practices in the northern Australian beef industry
  • Aimee Snowden currently works in Rockhampton but hails from a family farm in southern New South Wales. She will explore agricultural education models that foster immersive experiences and engage inquisitive minds
  • Miriam Villen King de Bargara will study sustainable approaches to nut farming in Australia

New South Wales

  • Fiona Avenue of Peak Hill will explore how to integrate value-added opportunities in the red meat industry
  • Tim Houston de Mungindi will research how to sustainably shift land from grazing to cropping, including cotton
  • Nicole Logg of Barmedman will investigate nutritional options to effectively supplement sheep
  • Jackie Morrison from McLeans Ridges will study integrated pest management and how it can support Australian industry’s fight against the Varroa destructor mite

Western Australia

  • Daniel Dempster de Goomalling will explore the economic implications of adopting farming practices that focus on full soil cover, minimal soil disturbance, high diversity of plant species and the incorporation of livestock
  • Rebecca Kelly of Mingenew will explore ways to help farmers in negotiations with energy companies, for example if they want to explore or extract resources from their land
  • Alys McKeough of Carnarvon will explore emerging technologies to improve property-wide connectivity, which could increase efficiency and productivity while improving range conditions in the pastoral industry

southern australia

  • Alexander Copper d’Auburn will investigate drought-tolerant wine varieties that could be introduced to Australia
  • Sammy McIntyre of Parawa will investigate how enriching feedlot environments to encourage natural behaviors can benefit the sheep industry

Tasmania

  • Iain field de Copping will study how to increase ecological literacy and biodiversity on farms for sustainability
  • Joana Ferreira Mendes from Geeveston will visit major aquaculture producing countries and bring back ideas and innovations to help the Australian industry grow fish more sustainably

North territory

  • Jodie Mitchell of Newcastle Waters will explore ways to improve the rearing of young cattle in northern/subtropical environments

Victoria

  • Sarah Crothwaite from Kergunyah South will study how different agricultural sectors around the world are supporting the mental health of their producers, especially in a changing climate

LAW

Nuffield Australia and CSIRO have established a partnership that fosters understanding between Australian scientific research and our agricultural industry

In 2023, Dr. Vivien (Viv) Rolland will be the sixth CSIRO scientist to participate in two key strands of the Nuffield programme: the Contemporary Scholars Conference (CSC) and the Global Focus Program (GFP)

Lana T. Arthur