Farmers make eye-opening visit to Murdoch

August 20, 2014

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The delegation heard about the latest breakthroughs in wheat research and learnt how researchers evaluate meat quality attributes

A delegation of farmers and staff from the Grower Group Alliance (GGA) visited Murdoch University this morning to meet key scientists and learn more about their research projects.

The 20 delegates were from a range of agricultural alliances throughout the state’s south west representing farmers from both broad acre cropping and mixed farming enterprises.

They visited Murdoch’s meat science lab, abattoir, metabolomics lab and the State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre. They also learnt about the latest breakthroughs in wheat research, saw demonstrations of the university’s CT scanner which is used for carcass composition and learnt how researchers evaluate meat quality attributes such as intramuscular fat, tenderness and colour.

The delegation visit was a supplementary activity to the GGA Annual Forum, which is taking place in Perth on Thursday. This year’s event theme is ‘Striving for profitability beyond agronomics’.

“In keeping with their forum theme, the leaders of the GGA delegation considered it relevant for the farmers to hear about and see a selection of key research being conducted at Murdoch,” said visit coordinator Dr Kelly Pearce, a research fellow and farmer who specialises in meat science.

“The University is striving to deliver innovative outputs that will improve farm productivity, sustainability and overall profitability and it was important to be able to show farmers the work we are doing, the leading edge technologies we are using, answer their questions and for them to make connections with our scientists for mutual benefit.

“It is very important for the future of research to foster our links with producers. It shows them that their levies are being spent wisely on research which will make a real difference to their farm businesses.

“For our scientists, building relationships with farmers through grower groups is vital. Grower groups are a tremendous means for researchers to initiate focused projects and, most importantly, increase adoption rates of new technologies and research. Involving farmers in research through grower groups produces advances they want and use. Innovations are only adopted when trialed in a local context and found to work by farmers.”

Felicity Taylor, executive officer of the Facey Group, a farmer run alliance based in Wickepin, said the tour had been fantastic.

“Forging links with researchers like Kelly has been extremely helpful for the farmers in our region,” she said. “Already she has helped us to negotiate the issues related to carrying out research projects on our farms which was quite a daunting prospect for some of our growers.

“For the PhD students we’ve seen working this morning, seeing how they can make a difference on the coal face – in our farms, must give their projects value.”

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