City stu­dents get a feel for farm­ing life

Countryman - - COUNTRY LIFE - Bob Gar­nant

Break­ing the city-coun­try di­vide, Year 9 Ross­moyne Se­nior High School stu­dents had a field day last week at the Univer­sity of WA’s Ridgefield farm at Pin­gelly.

The event was the brain­child of hu­man­i­ties and so­cial sciences teacher Al­i­son Sci­as­cia, whose mis­sion was to give the 56 stu­dents a les­son in food pro­duc­tion.

Many of the stu­dents had never been in­side a shear­ing shed, where UWA Pro­fes­sor Graeme Mar­tin and Ridgefield man­ager Richard McKenna helped to bol­ster their knowl­edge of on-farm ac­tiv­i­ties.

From farm ma­chin­ery and the tech­nol­ogy that has been tipped to rev­o­lu­tionise agri­cul­ture, to restora­tion work to im­prove bio­di­ver­sity, the stu­dents ex­plored the aims of UWA’s Fu­ture Farm 2050.

“To­day’s farm im­ple­ments are de­signed to have min­i­mum ground dis­tur­bance in an ef­fort to re­duce soil ero­sion while re­tain­ing mois­ture,” Mr McKenna told stu­dents as they pe­rused the farm’s seeder.

UWA se­nior science lec­turer Nik Cal­low, also on hand to speak with stu­dents and demon­strate drone tech­nol­ogy, said farm­ing was an ex­pen­sive busi­ness that re­quired cap­i­tal in­vest­ment, and ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy could have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion, with fewer peo­ple re­quired to un­der­take man­ual tasks.

Tour­ing the farm by bus, the stu­dents came un­der the in­struc­tion of UWA field­work co-or­di­na­tor Chris Brouwer, who had them an­a­lyse soil sam­ples from three sites.

Pic­ture: Nik Cal­low

Ross­moyne stu­dents pic­tured by drone dur­ing a field day at UWA's Ridgefield Farm.

Pic­ture: Bob Gar­nant

Ross­moyne stu­dent Phoenix Opitz-de Niet col­lect­ing soil sam­ples at UWA's Ridgefield farm.

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