A TEAM of tomorrow's innovative land managers from The Armidale School has taken out the prestigious Northern Tablelands Local Land Services Schools Property Planning Competition for their work analysing the real-life challenges faced by a Guyra farming family.
TAS was awarded the Leanne Savage Perpetual Shield for the highest performing school in the annual competition.
The property planning contest recognises students for their understanding of core issues like sustainable agricultural production, biosecurity and natural resource management.
TAS students dominated the awards, with Tom Scifleet, a boarder from Binnaway and Hamish Pearce from Armidale being named champions; Jack Armstrong a boarder from Inverell was one of two Highly Commended entries, whilst Bronte Dagg (Armidale) and Samuel Coombes (Dorrigo) achieved an Encouragement Award.
The focus of this year's competition was the Guyra property 'Brookfield' owned by Darryl and Leanne Savage, who lent their support for students to develop management plans to improve the farm's economic and environmental sustainability.
"Because the owners don't live on the property we looked at a lot of technology so things could be managed remotely such as monitoring tanks and troughs with a mobile phone app, and an in-paddock automatic livestock weighing system," Hamish said.
The use of drones and on-farm energy generation systems such as wind turbines also featured in the students' entries.
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COVID-19 restrictions meant students had to rely on maps, photos and written resources for their plans, with an on-farm field day not possible. Even more challenging for the TAS students was that much of their plan was developed while learning remotely and being unable to collaborate in class - an extra challenge for Jack Armstrong who was in Western Australia at the time.
"I'd start school work at six in the morning and then put a full day in - working independently by emails and a few Zooms meant I could work on it at my own pace," he said.
Mrs Savage said the entries were the best she had seen in six years as a judge of the competition.
"Credit to Northern Tablelands Local Land Services and teachers for developing and sharing resources to demonstrate our farm business in such detail that the students could use them without having the benefit of seeing the property first-hand in a field day situation. The students developed plans that we could literally pick up and implement in the paddock straight away," she said.