AN insight into alternative farming systems and enterprises created to overcome issues and challenges onfarm was the key takeaway gained by participants on last week's Grower Group Alliance (GGA) study tour.
The 'Going Places' tour was hosted by GGA in lieu of its usual annual forum, with 17 people hitting the road and heading north for a jam-packed four day itinerary.
The tour covered more than 1400 kilometres between Perth and Yuna, showcasing 15 diverse agricultural industry sites and providing a high-impact professional development experience which boosted technical knowledge and strengthened industry relationships.
The itinerary was dotted with both iconic and lesser known industry players, with participants given the opportunity to be connected with industry thought-leaders and come face-to-face with inspiring enterprise innovations.
Stirlings to Coast Farmers smart farms co-ordinator Philip Honey attended the tour on behalf of his grower group and said it was a great opportunity to maximise his knowledge through peer-to-peer learning.
"The study tour provided an excellent opportunity to see some of the strategies being used to build resilience in farming systems, in ways that are either out of the box, value-adding or through improved farm practices," Mr Honey said.
"It was a great opportunity to learn about what is happening outside of the Great Southern high rainfall zone and open my eyes to potential out of the box solutions that our members could potentially integrate."
Some of the highlights of the trip included a stored grain site at Nunile viewing best practice grain storage processes, a farm water desalination plant on the Sewell's farm at Wongan Hills, Stuart McAlpine's farm at Buntine looking at his soil biology stewardship approach, Brendan Haeusler's farm at Carnamah looking at land hydration and restoration strategies, a combined barramundi aquaculture and cropping farm at Morawa and an agtech case study on the Batten's farms at Yuna.
GGA chief executive officer Rikki Foss said the organisation was always looking to connect industry with growers and grower groups and saw a study tour as a great way to do that.
"Our grower groups helped drive the itinerary and they expressed interest in soil carbon, regenerative agriculture and viewing alternative enterprises which other farmers and industry bodies have created to overcome challenges or issues they have faced," Ms Foss said.
"Four days out of the office for anyone is a lot of time, so we wanted to make sure we provided as much value as we could, so it was an action-packed itinerary which also provided a great opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and creating new networks."
For Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development project officer Brittany Bolt, the tour presented an opportunity for her to represent the department's workforce and business capability team, as well as expand her knowledge from my experience in sheep and cropping at Wagin.
She said the tour was a great environment to connect with grower groups, producers and the greater industry.
"The tour was so wonderfully organised by GGA, uniting industry to share ideas and provoke stimulating discussions whilst covering an active representation of the northern Wheatbelt and Mid West regions," Ms Bolt said.
"As most would agree, so much value lies within the people you meet through these experiences and I really enjoyed getting to know all the participants of the tour - GGA attracted really passionate individuals with growth mindsets and a willingness to learn and share ideas.
"With people like the producers and researchers we visited and the participants on tour, we have such an exciting future in agriculture, this experience really reinforced that our industry is welcoming and stimulating for the next generation in agriculture."
For Mr Honey, the diversity of sites visited and topics covered, across both the city and the bush, were of great benefit, as were the opportunity to meet like-minded people in the industry and build networks with a wide range of farmers, grower groups, researchers and industry.
"Every attendee brought their own unique insight and personal experience to the table and site hosts openly shared what worked, what didn't and what they would do differently again," he said.
"There are a lot of great people doing well in building onfarm resilience, whether that is through the use of modern technologies, holistic soil/farm management, or through the management of alternative revenue streams."
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