Agricultural field day plants big ideas for future of farming

GROWTH: Armidale High agriculture teacher Rebecca Smith, agronomist Maarten Stapper and Landcare's Sara Schmude at the event at Armidale High School on Tuesday. Picture: Meg Francis
GROWTH: Armidale High agriculture teacher Rebecca Smith, agronomist Maarten Stapper and Landcare's Sara Schmude at the event at Armidale High School on Tuesday. Picture: Meg Francis

Big ideas were planted with a cohort of students from four schools across the region when they combined to discuss farming and agriculture. 

Now we can use the power of nature more effectively than nature does itself because nature is conservative.

Maarten Stapper

The group was made up of students from Armidale High School, New England Girls School, O’Connor Catholic College and Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School.

Farming systems agronomist Dr Maarten Stapper was a guest speaker at the field day on Tuesday. 

“It’s a fantastic day. I’m presenting regenerative farming principles to four school groups here in the New England,” Dr Stapper said. “Regenerative farming is more about using the power of nature to farm, and using biofertilisers.

“Our forefathers did this thousands of years ago but more production was needed so they invested fertilisers. 

“Now we can use the power of nature more effectively than nature does itself because nature is conservative.

“We have to step back and start using the power of nature.” Regenerative farming aims to move away from the use of pesticides by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity.

Dr Stapper said he believes regenerative farming practices would ensure a sustainable future.

“It’s rediscovering what we knew in the past and now in our context, it’s making the system so productive,” he said. “It’s the soil that feeds the plants so we just have to minimise the negative impacts of the process.

“It’s very important for young people because they are on the cusp of becoming professionals themselves.”

The agricultural departments from Armidale High School and New England Girls School partnered together with Southern New England Landcare to present the field day.

Armidale High School agriculture teacher Rebecca Smith was thrilled by the turnout on the day. 

“We are trying to open the students eyes to other forms of agriculture, mainly we have been looking at soil health, animal husbandry and their health,” Ms Smith said.

“This event is about going back to the fundamentals and looking at nourishing the land.”

Dr Stapper will be talking about ethnobotany at the ‘Science in the Club’ at the Wicklow Hotel on Wednesday  from 7pm.