THE Farm Machinery & Industry Association (FMIA) will continue to beat the drum on the need for precision farming to be included in ag education curricula.
Speaking at the association’s recent annual general meeting and conference, FMIA chairman Brad Forrester and the association’s executive officer John Henchy both expressed disappointment at the lack of engagement by education bodies on the topic.
“Earlier in the year the FMIA was invited for input to develop Curtin University’s new agribusiness associate degree for its 2019 program,” Mr Forrester said.
“While pleased with the invite we still have some frustrations with the lack of precision farming components and relevance of the focus on ‘Big Data’.
“We will continue to work with the appropriate people to make this an avenue for future employment.”
According to Mr Henchy, technical education continues to be a challenge with the Central and South regional TAFEs, as an entity, walking away from its agreed intention of working with the FMIA to deliver its AUR30416 certificate III in agricultural mechanical technology.
“We are still focusing on the matter and another option is to attract a privately-operated registered training organisation to fill the gap,” he said.
“If this can be managed it will be a less bureaucratic system and will allow more flexibility in delivery, which will better suit our members.”
Mr Henchy said the association had been invited to participate in an industry working group to help develop future training programs, with Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, which is a national training developer for the Federal government.
“There is still interest in developing a certificate IV course in precision ag but that too is proving hard to get traction, despite the fact there are many courses already being delivered in the United States,” Mr Henchy said.
The association also continues to lobby for more sensible laws and regulations regarding the movement of agricultural equipment.
“Government bureaucracy continues to be a challenge with the movement of equipment,” Mr Henchy said.
“We are still restricted to 35 kilometres an hour with tractor registrations when today’s models come standard with 40km/h or 50km/h transmissions.
“We are still unable to tow platforms behind headers without a permit and after 31 years of rubber-tracked tractors, they are barely recognised by the Department of Transport and Main Roads, who are struggling to approve their movement on roads.”
Mr Henchy said government bureaucrats also would not address the fact that agricultural equipment had changed dramatically in the past 20 years.
“Axle loadings for agricultural machinery, particularly tractors and self-propelled machinery, are still based on truck requirements, where it is clear that our flotation tyres and tracks do less damage on roads than the average trucks, but they will still not look at changing requirements to suit our industry,” he said.