New South Wales farmer Roger Bolte has called on fellow grain growers to engage with the newly established AgSkilled project in order to bolster the most crucial aspect of their business ... training.
The West Wyalong grower is the third generation of his family to be involved in agriculture and is a staunch advocate of training describing it as ‘the most important thing’ farmers can do to improve their business and ensure they stay competitive and profitable in a changing world.
“I came back onto the farm when I was 15 to a very traditional farming base and like a lot of young people I returned to the industry with very limited real life experience,” he explained.
While the farming operation, along with his knowledge has expanded in the 35 years since he took over the family property, “Millewah”, he said being prepared to learn and embrace training has been an integral part of that growth.
“Training’s probably the most important thing farmers can have. We all come out of school with limited real life experience so ongoing education is critical,” Mr Bolte said.
“The fact is farming is not a lifestyle anymore, it’s a business and businesses need to be managed properly and we need training to do that.”
His motivation for continuing to embrace learning is centred on improving his family property. Today he farms around 6500 hectares in what is primarily a winter crop-focused operation, with canola, wheat and barley and a legume rotation of lentils, chickpeas, vetch and faba beans.
He is also a staunch believe in training and building on the knowledge of the next generation of young people involved in agriculture.
“We’re certainly trying to steward younger growers and encourage them to be looking at how they farm and how they look after their land and hopefully try to improve it as they in turn pass it on to the next generation.”
Mr Bolte was speaking out about the benefits of training to encourage his fellow growers to participate in a future training needs survey for the AgSkilled initiative.
The AgSkilled initiative, announced in December by the Deputy Premier of NSW and Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, has allocated $14.7 million over three-years to increase staff skill levels and attract industry newcomers with the aim of improving the productivity and profitability of the grains and cotton industries.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Cotton Australia are now in the process of conducting an industry-wide training needs survey that will help us understand the immediate and future training needs of growers, on-farm staff and the broader industry. The results of this survey will inform the rollout of the AgSkilled project across NSW.
Mr Bolte said the AgSkilled survey was reliant on grower input to ensure the right training is delivered to meet on-farm needs.
So he is encouraging his peers to complete the short survey, by going to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AgSkilledSurvey
“Training is a life’s journey and we never stop learning and the right, effective training is the quickest way we can learn new ways of doing things and improve the way that we’re running our own farms,” Mr Bolte said.
“The world is changing and we have to change with it and education is the only way we can do it.”
- To watch an interview with Mr Bolte explaining the benefits of training go to https://youtu.be/c1ZcAbKTqss.