Lawson is inspired to bridge the gap

Lawson is inspired to bridge the gap

News
Lawson Harper is a sixth-generation farmer in the second year of his associate degree in agribusiness at the Muresk Institute. He has been president of the Muresk Student Association Committee for almost a year.

Lawson Harper is a sixth-generation farmer in the second year of his associate degree in agribusiness at the Muresk Institute. He has been president of the Muresk Student Association Committee for almost a year.

Aa

Growing up on a 5000 hectare cropping and beef farm in Dandaragan, Lawson Harper has been exposed to various aspects of the agricultural industry, having worked on his family's farm and others while studying an associate degree in agribusiness at the Muresk Institute.

Aa

SIXTH-generation farmer Lawson Harper says his main goal in the agricultural industry is to help bridge the divide between country and city people.

"My generation has the greatest access to digital technology and social media in history, yet agriculture is still so disconnected," Mr Harper said.

"I think bridging that gap will be critical to the ongoing sustainability of the sector."

Growing up on a 5000 hectare cropping and beef farm in Dandaragan, the 19-year-old has been exposed to various aspects of the agricultural industry, having worked on his family's farm and others while studying an associate degree in agribusiness at the Muresk Institute.

"I've worked with cattle, managed pastures, grown broadacre crops and driven a variety of seeding and harvesting equipment," Mr Harper said.

 Muresk Institute farm manager Steve Waineright (left) with Lawson Harper and his partner, Kate Addison, who are both studying an associate degree in agribusiness.

Muresk Institute farm manager Steve Waineright (left) with Lawson Harper and his partner, Kate Addison, who are both studying an associate degree in agribusiness.

"I've also worked with sheep and learnt to crutch, so I think I've had a pretty wide exposure to mainstream agricultural farming practices - for someone my age."

Having heard many tales from his father, Rob Harper, about his time at Muresk, Mr Harper said he had no question about where he was going to enrol when he decided to study agriculture.

"Charles Sturt University (CSU) was leaving Muresk when I began my studies and Curtin had re-entered the institute as its major tertiary education provider," he said.

"At Muresk you are studying agribusiness while being immersed in it and that just makes so much sense to me.

"I love being able to learn something in the lecture theatre and then either apply it on the farm at Muresk or see it physically, as that's where the real learning occurs."

Now in the second year of his degree, Mr Harper was seeding at a farm in Pingelly at the time of writing.

He put his hand up for the position of Muresk Student Association Committee president and was elected to the role mid-last year.

Mr Harper said it had been a big challenge, but one that he enjoyed.

"I've been lucky enough to get support from numerous high calibre people within the industry," he said.

"But I look forward to the election of the new president towards the end of the year and I hope they can do even better than me and bring forth new ideas and faces to Muresk."

Lawson Harper with his partner Kate Addison.

Lawson Harper with his partner Kate Addison.

Due to mounting pressures from the live cattle trade, Mr Harper's parents decided to sell their farm and cattle station in Dandaragan in 2012, but helped manage the farm operations up until 2018.

However with three younger brothers, his mother Tasma, running an equine business and his father still working as a contractor in the industry, Mr Harper hopes to farm with his family again one day.

"My dad inspires me everyday as he is a motivated and hard-working farmer who always does things to the best of his ability and is willing to try new ideas," Mr Harper said.

"He also has a great love for cattle which is really infectious - any day working cattle or even doing the most mundane jobs were so enjoyable thanks to his positive attitude.

"So to own a cattle property again and implement our practices that we had success with at Dandaragan - that would be the goal."

A strong believer in the holistic management of land and soils, Mr Harper said he trusted the work of Zimbabwean ecologist, livestock farmer, president and co-founder of the Savory Institute Allan Savory.

"I think his practices, which are focused on how we can be better land managers and feed our soils - not just our plants - could be the future standard farming practices moving forward," he said.

"Allan strives to educate and implement a method of farming which helps with building soil carbon and rejuvenating soils.

"I've read his books, watched his talks and learnt lots about soil biology and management of livestock, which is vastly different to the norm here in Australia."

With a passion for working cattle and farming that incorporates holistically managed grazing, Mr Harper said his ideal position would be any role that helped farmers.

"That could be in the capacity as a consultant, an agronomist or even a lawyer," he said.

His broader goal, however, is to do whatever he can to help promote the agricultural industry.

"I want to inspire Australia's younger generations to be farmers, because without them, there will be no Australian-owned farms left," Mr Harper said.

"There is nothing better than waking up early each morning to shift 1200 cows with calves on foot or a quad bike onto fresh perennial pastures."

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by