The Upper North Farming Systems group conducts research trials and provides extension and networking opportunities for farmers, agronomists, researchers and primary industry in the Upper North region of South Australia.
Since 2015, UNFS has operated a Ladies on the Land hub, an informal group for women of the Upper North to meet, learn and share ideas.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, women are significantly under-represented in farming businesses, with men making up 72 per cent of farmers in Australia in 2011, with the proportion of female farmers falling in recent decades.
Upper North Farming Systems: Jess Koch, Ruth Sommerville, Mary Timms, Hannah Mikajlo, Kaitlyn Woolford.
Presenters: Lou Flohr, Judy Wilkinson, James Hillcoat, Anne Brown, Caroline Graham.
Women are under-represented in agriculture.
Five Ladies on the Land Upskilling Women Workshops were held featuring a range of speakers and topics.
The objective of the project was to host a series of workshops upskilling women in sustainable and productive farming principles.
In the field
Five workshops were held over the course of a year. The first two were delivered by Mallee agronomist Lou Flour and focused on agronomy, including crop rotations, weeds and soil type. Practical activities included identifying the growth stage of plant samples, site visits to a local paddock and agronomy business and pH soil testing.
The third and fourth workshops were delivered by Judy Wilkinson and addressed succession planning and communication, with a session delivered by Rural Directions’ James Hillcoat on grain marketing.
Topics included entering and exiting farm businesses, roles in the farming business and farming with family members.
The final workshop looked at native vegetation with Greening Australia’s Anne Brown, and farm safety with Safe AgSystems’ Caroline Graham.
All workshops featured a free creche to make it easier for women to attend and participants were welcome to bring young babies to the workshops.
More than 40 women attended the workshops. Feedback from participants and their families was that the workshops made agriculture information easily understandable and women felt inspired to make positive changes in their own farming businesses. Development of networks and connections was also highlighted as a valuable outcome.
The workshops also improved UNFS’ reach through social media, increasing Ladies on the Land Facebook followers from 3800 to 6176 people.
Value for growers
The workshops have given women real practical skills and knowledge to take back to their own farming enterprises.
Event coordinator Jess Koch has since presented to a group of industry professionals on the success of the workshops, a sixth workshop, “Seven Deadly Sins of Business Planning’” has been conducted and more workshops are planned for the future.