Sci­ence to help im­prove farm­ing meth­ods

The Chronicle - - NEWS - Kate Dodd kate.dodd@thechron­i­cle.com.au

NOBBY Val­ley farmer Alan Richards grows a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent crops on his 1500 acre farm, but figs are his pas­sion.

Dur­ing his “day job” he grows crops like onions, mus­tard pick­les and car­rots, but af­ter ex­per­i­ment­ing with veg­eta­bles like bok choy, cu­cum­bers, truss to­ma­toes and egg­plants, he de­cided to give figs a go.

He said the first 50 trees prop­a­gated very well and gave him some en­cour­age­ment, and he was also able to pro­duce figs out­side of the times they were nor­mally grown.

Now, he’s got about 3000 trees.

Mr Richards was one of the lo­cal pro­duc­ers at the Cobb and Co Mu­seum for the World Sci­ence Fes­ti­val Bris­bane’s re­gional event Farmer Wants a Sci­ence Life.

Cobb and Co Mu­seum di­rec­tor Deb­bie Bai­ley said dur­ing the event lots of con­ver­sa­tions were had about how sci­ence could help with agri­cul­ture and im­prove farm­ing meth­ods.

The Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment will sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment of a ded­i­cated in­no­va­tion space in Toowoomba to in­crease stu­dents’ sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics skills and em­ploy­a­bil­ity.

In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Leeanne Enoch, who was in Toowoomba for the fes­ti­val, said the Toowoomba STEM En­rich­ment Hub re­ceived $17000 from the Ad­vance Queens­land En­gag­ing Sci­ence Grant pro­gram.

Ms Enoch said the Hub, to be at Cen­te­nary Heights State High School in Toowoomba, would be an im­por­tant re­source for the en­tire re­gion.

Queens­land Chief Sci­en­tist Pro­fes­sor Suzanne Miller said the Ad­vance Queens­land En­gag­ing Sci­ence Grants pro­gram aimed to in­crease the reach and im­pact of sci­ence in Queens­land and boost the num­ber of stu­dents en­rolling in STEM sub­jects.

Cen­te­nary Heights State High School prin­ci­pal Maryanne Walsh said the Toowoomba STEM En­rich­ment Hub would cre­ate a mo­ti­vat­ing space that would en­able learn­ers to prob­lem solve and in­no­vate.

“This ini­tia­tive will be piv­otal in the de­vel­op­ment of a whole-school and com­mu­nity ap­proach to driv­ing the STEM agenda for Toowoomba’s stu­dents and the re­gional com­mu­nity.”

PHO­TOS: NEV MAD­SEN

FARMER WANTS A SCI­ENCE LIFE: Alan Richards from Car­ra­mar Figs had a stall at the Farmer Wants a Sci­ence Life event at at Cobb and Co Mu­seum.

SCI­ENCE EVENT: Hav­ing a great time learn­ing about sci­ence and agri­cul­ture are (from left) Ta­mara Welke with Susie and Lawrence Gavey.

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