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Emma Ayliffe


Creation date: 15 February 2022


Introducing Emma Ayliffe

 

Emma Ayliffe is Co-Founder & Director Summit Ag Agricultural Consulting. She and her partner own and operate a 688-hectare property at Lake Cargelligo, and Emma has collected a swathe of awards including a Farmer of the Year title. She found herself in the top 10 nominees for a LEAD scholarship with her essay on innovation - how we can drive the adoption of technology that exists today.

 

Here’s some of what she had to say:

 

The biggest limitation to Australian Agriculture is silo thinking. You are a cotton grower or a rice farmer. You’re a sheep producer or a cattle producer, you irrigate or are dryland.

There aren’t too many farmers out there that fit neatly into one bucket. They are dynamic and smart business people that understand the importance of diversity and flexibility to be here for the long term. So, why do we insist on putting these people into these buckets?

 

From the outside looking in as a consumer we see different industries fighting one another on topics like water, pesticides and relevance. How can our consumers trust an industry where the people in it fight based on the crop or stock that are present on their farm? For Australia to hit our target we need to break down a lot of these barriers. We need politics and consumers to see agriculture as a united front that is here to work together to hit these big miles stones. We need to LEAD by example.

 

My first suggestion to government and industry is to LEAD by example, start to collaborate, pool resources and ideas and work together to accelerate projects and their implementation for the greater good of all of agriculture.

 

For the people that have been in the industry a long time there are great director style courses and top end knowledge builders. But what about that critical 30–40-year-old group, the ones that will be our leaders of tomorrow? Instead of more of the same youth programs with a shiny new cover, how about some middle of the road development programs to give people the skills and confidence to help be the people to get Ag to hit its goals?

 

Farmer-to-farmer extension is known to be the best way to get practice change and tool adoption. We need to find the “leading edge” farmers to get new ideas into the world and then we need to give them the confidence and tools to spread the word. So how do we find and use cases and examples of new practice adoption for farmer influence? How do we connect people from outside of their regions to share information? How do we get people from different baskets to work together?

 

Thinking outside of the box and trying to be innovative is a big thing that myself and business partner have been trying to look at. How do we get peer to peer learning to be a regular thing and how do we create a safe space where cross commodity support and collaboration can be found?

 

To solve this myself and my business partner Heath McWhirter have built an App, Yacker. We have done the work to understand the farmer’s interactions with current social media and what the positives are and where the gaps can be filled sit. The key learnings were that producers prefer one to one communication in a “safe” environment with the love of a good ol’ Yack on the phone very evident.

So how will an App help get us to out $100B target? It helps to bridge the barriers that are standing in our way. To solve the problems in the paddock that are holding us back researchers and industry bodies need to have a good understanding of the problems at ground level.

 

If we can see agriculture us a WHOLE rather than silos, if we can make sure we have middle ground training for our leaders of tomorrow and if we can break down the barriers of communication encouraging peer to peer learning then we will be well on our way!


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