Global audience to hear idea
A CENTRAL Queensland producer has an idea that could potentially slash the amount of time farmers spend in the office.
Rolleston’s Natalie Engel will present this idea to a global audience at evokeAG, an inaugural international agrifood-technology event to be held in Melbourne next month.
She was selected as one of four finalists from across Australia in the Pitch Tent – Producer Problem category.
The international audience will include investors, corporate decision-makers and industry influencers.
NATALIE and her partner Chris Whiteman manage a 3966ha grassfed beef-branding and finishing operation at Rolleston, south of Emerald.
In the good times, Sunlight Grazing, owned by Chris and his parents, carries 1500 head of cattle.
They’re holding onto 1200, but if there’s no decent rain in the next few weeks the couple will look to reduce.
“It usually rains in January, but if it doesn’t, we’ll have to knock back another 50 breeders or steers,” she said.
Natalie said they were lucky to get rain in July and October of 2018 to keep them going, so the season “wasn’t too bad”.
Neighbours on three sides of their property had been affected by fires in the latter half of last year, but the couple had been lucky, with Chris only fighting a fire right on the boundary on Christmas Eve.
When this edition of the Rural Weekly caught up with Natalie, she’d ducked inside for a break from the heat of their summer muster.
Sunlight Grazing process their grass-fed EU cattle at Teys Australia in Biloela.
Like the majority of western Queensland graziers, the property has also felt the brunt of the vegetation management laws.
“Two years ago Chris saw it coming,” she said.
“We got our PMAV (property map of assessable vegetation) locked in and borrowed money from the bank to clear an extra 400 acres.
“But now we’ve got wattle that’s two years old and the blackcurrant is growing wild.
“We’ve been thinking about fencing in a herd of goats to clear it.”
HOSTED by AgriFutures Australia, the aim of evokeAG is to highlight, discuss and debate exciting developments surrounding the future of our food and how it will be produced.
With a background in feedlotting, agribusiness and ag-tech, Natalie’s identified a simple way for producers to manage quality assurance platforms.
“Currently we’re having to access multiple systems on a regular basis and trying to keep on top of it all without spending days sitting at a desk is tough,” she said.
“There’s lots of double-ups in forms and requirements.
“I know myself, gaining access to EUNVDs (European Union vendor declarations), MSA (Meat Standards Australia) forms and cattle health certificates online has sometimes held the truck up by an extra hour, because the current platform has a lot of issues.
Natalie said keeping track of animals when they were sold or purchased and all associated paperwork, not just in paper form,
INNOVATOR: Rolleston’s Natalie Engel will step on stage at evokeAG next month to present an idea to merge quality assurance systems to save producers time.
AHEAD OF THE GAME: Sunlight Grazing’s Natalie Engel and her partner Chris Whiteman manage 3966ha and an ag-tech business from Rolleston in central Queensland. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED