Tag Archives: Adelaide

Debate @ the Waite “Australian cities need Australian farmers”

For our next Debate @ the Waite on the Thursday 28th of June, we’ll be taking the debate to the city to discuss:

Australian cities need Australian farmers


Image courtesy of Lynne Strong, Clover Hill Dairies

Eighty nine per cent of Australia’s 23 million-strong population lives in urban areas. We are already one of the most urbanised countries in the world, and growing more so. As the link between city-dwellers and the countryside grows more tenuous, the understanding of the importance of farmers to everyday life in Australia is decreasing.

Our farmers produce some 93 per cent of Australia’s domestic food supply, which is competitively priced and safe – yet surveys indicate that many city people do not know (or care) where their food comes from. Is it conceivable that modern Australia no longer considers farmers important? Could large Australian cities survive without Australian farmers and sustain themselves with imported and urban community-grown food?

Australian farmers are under pressure as never before – externally from economic and environmental factors and internally from the exodus of their children, the next generation, to the cities. The average age of the Australian farmer is now 55. If Australian farmers really matter in this era of globalised trade and in the context of a mineral resources boom, how can we bridge the urban/rural and generation gaps, make farming a more attractive proposition and get city folk to recognise and value farmers?

While Australian agricultural export earnings make a significant $30 billion (3.8% of GDP) contribution to the economy annually, it is the mining (19% of GDP) and manufacturing (68% of GDP) sectors that are driving our competitiveness and underpinning our wealth. Are we better off focussing on these industrial strengths and using the wealth generated to source our food from other countries?

But farmers also have a stewardship role in maintaining the landscape. What would be lost if farmers no longer did this, and who else would do it? How would an abandoned countryside impact on the psyche of all Australians? And what would be the consequences in times of conflict if there was no domestically-grown food?

In the Australian Year of the Farmer, this debate, moderated by Dr Paul Willis, RiAus, will explore all these issues, as six experts in two teams argue for your vote.

Team for the Affirmative:
Prof Wayne Meyer, Chair of Natural Resource Science, University of Adelaide
Ms Deb Bain, CEO of FarmDay, Director of Australian Year of the Farmer, Farmer
Dr Doug Bardsley, Senior Lecturer, Geography, Environment and Population, University of Adelaide

Team for the Negative:
Prof Christopher Findlay, Executive Dean, Faculty of the Professions, University of Adelaide
Councillor David Plumridge AM, Deputy Lord Mayor, City of Adelaide
A Prof Wendy Umberger, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, University of Adelaide

Thursday 28th of June 2012
6:00pm – 8:30pm

When: Thursday 28 June 2012, 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
Where: RiAus, Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide

Finger food provided. A cash bar will be open throughout the event.

Admission is free, but prior registration is essential as seats are strictly limited.
To register to attend the event go to http://waitedebate-city.eventbrite.com/

In a first for the Debate @ the Waite series, we will also be livestreaming the debate courtesy of the RiAus via their website from 6.30 pm SA time. Information on how to view the event will be provided closer to the debate.

To join the debate on Twitter, follow @waiteresearch and use the hashtag #agchatoz

The Waite Research Institute is a proud supporter of the Australian Year of the Farmer

Debate @ The Waite, 3rd November 2011

Come and see two teams debate the topic:

Agriculture should be exempt from greenhouse gas reduction schemes

Ensuring that Australia’s agricultural industries remain profitable and productive while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a major challenge.

About 20% of the total greenhouse gas emissions globally come from agriculture. Agricultural emissions are mainly methane and nitrous oxide which are much more potent that carbon dioxide. This means agriculture potentially contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than other industries. In Australia, livestock is our third largest source of emissions, equal to transport, and make up about 70% of those from agriculture.
Reducing emissions from agriculture could contribute significantly to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Does agriculture have an obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? If other sectors are included in reduction schemes such as the ‘carbon tax’, shouldn’t agriculture be included too? Could there be new business opportunities for rural communities with schemes to offset greenhouse gas emissions? What are the consequences for the environment if agricultural emissions are not reduced?
On the other hand, agriculture is based on variable and interacting biological systems. Is it even possible to monitor its greenhouse gas emissions accurately? Do we have enough knowledge now to reduce emissions from agriculture? Would reduction schemes decrease Australia’s international competiveness in food and fibre production, along with our export earnings? What would be the likely impact on the profitability of Australian farms?

Will you be for or against?

Affirmative Team
Prof Phil Hynd, Deputy Head, Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide
Dr Murray Unkovich, Lecturer in Soil Science, University of Adelaide
Mick Keogh, Executive Director, Australian Farm Institute

Negative Team
Prof Mike Young, Executive Director, The Environment Institute, University of Adelaide
Prof Wayne Meyer, Chair of Natural Resource Science, University of Adelaide
Prof Tony Peacock, Chief Executive, Cooperative Research Centres Association

Ian Doyle, President, Rural Media SA

When: Thursday 3rd November, 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
Where: Lirra Lirra Cafe, Waite Campus, The University of Adelaide, Waite Rd, Urrbrae

Finger food provided. A cash bar will be open throughout the event

Admission free. Bookings essential

Register online at eventbrite or call 83036729

Download flyer

Peter Waite: Action and Optimism for Australian Agriculture

Peter Waite - circa 1908

Peter Waite - circa 1908

Imagine it’s 1865. Six years ago, when you were 25, you followed your older brothers to South Australia from Scotland. Your eldest brother has since died and now you are responsible for managing over 2,000 square kilometres of property running 40,000 head of sheep at Paratoo in the semi-arid north of South Australia. There is no railway anywhere nearby and horses and bullock teams are the only means of transportation to and from the town of Adelaide 260 km away. A year ago your Scottish fiancée, now wife, came to join you, bringing her heavy British clothing and a harmonium. And there’s a drought: one of the worst in the colony’s history. After losing 8,000 sheep, even more lambs and 50 bullocks, and with your wife begging you to give up and take her back to Scotland, you decide to send 12,000 sheep south to better grazing country near Penola over 600km away in South Australia’s south-east. It would take 12 months, but ultimately your action and optimism would save your enterprise when the drought broke a year later and an even larger flock returned.

Peter Waite was a remarkable man. His tenacity and resourcefulness are seen in his ability to not only survive, but thrive in the harsh conditions faced by early Australian pastoralists. He made many improvements to the properties he managed to reduce the impact of climate variability such as fencing, providing permanent water sources and spelling the land. His ability to implement new ideas with drive and intelligence meant that his career and social standing progressed rapidly. By 1877, when his family took possession of ‘Urrbrae’ in Adelaide he was a partner in Thomas Elder’s Beltana Pastoral Company and could afford to return to Scotland to purchase high-quality furnishings for his new home. Amongst the beautiful furniture was an oak sideboard inscribed with Waite’s motto Fac et Spera or ‘Action and Optimism’. His business interests continued to thrive and both his family and his social position grew. He was a keen supporter of sports, in particular hunting. Urrbrae appeared regularly on the social calendar for hunt breakfasts, dinners and balls. Waite also had keen interest in art and was a patron of Sir Arthur Streeton, acquiring 31 of his works. He was an ‘early adopter’ of technology: electricity, refrigeration and automobiles. By 1909, at 75 years of age, Peter Waite was not only the Chairman of Elder Smith & Co Ltd. but Managing Director of three pastoral companies, a director of three commercial companies including British Broken Hill Mining Co. and a member of the Council of the Pastoralists’ Association of South Australia and West Darling.

In 1913, Peter and Matilda Waite’s son David died tragically and none of their remaining children were interested in remaining at Urrbrae after their parents’ deaths. Later that year, Peter Waite wrote to the Chancellor of the University of Adelaide and the Premier of South Australia expressing his wish to present, on his and Matilda’s deaths, Urrbrae House and property of 54 hectares to the University. The eastern half of the land was for research and training in agricultural and related studies, and the western half for a public park under the University’s control (now the Waite Arboretum). The 45 hectares adjoining Urrbrae was to be presented to the Government for the purpose of establishing an agricultural high school (now Urrbrae Agricultural High School). Waite’s surviving children were adequately provided for and actively supported their father’s decision, making several contributions of their own to the University after their father’s death. Interestingly, in 1917, Peter Waite was offered a knighthood but refused it on the basis of his age, then 83. Before his death at 88 in 1922, and Matilda’s later the same year, Waite purchased more property adjacent to Urrbrae (Claremont and Netherby) and transferred ownership of these to the University. He also set aside shares in Elder Smith and Co. Ltd for the purpose of devoting the income to the University for the advancement of agricultural education. It was one of the largest public benefactions ever made by a South Australian colonist and today would be equivalent to several million dollars.

Waite’s legacy is more than just land and money. The spirit of action and optimism continued from the establishment of the original Waite Agricultural Research Institute in 1924, through research-driven innovations in soil science, plant breeding and wine research, and through collocation of the University of Adelaide with research organisations such as CSIRO, the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and SARDI. Now “The Waite” (as it is known) has over 1,000 researchers across the collocated organisations and hosts major national research centres and facilities such as the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, the Plant Accelerator (part of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility) and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls. There is a rich network of research collaborations between all of the Waite partners, for example The Wine Innovation Cluster involves four partners and undertakes the majority of Australia’s wine-related research.

Agriculture, both in Australia and globally, faces the huge challenge of feeding a growing population sustainably and resourcing the research needed to support innovation and discovery is increasingly difficult. In Peter Waite’s own words, written in 1913: “We have now reached a point when it behoves us to call science to our aid to a greater extent than hitherto has been done, otherwise we cannot hope to keep in the forefront.” Peter Waite’s generous gift, made nearly 100 years ago, ensures that the Waite name will continue to deliver action and optimism for Australian agriculture into the future.

Written by Heather Bray

For more information on Peter Waite go to http://www.waite.adelaide.edu.au/urrbraehouse/pwaite/

Mark Tester at TEDx Adelaide – Video

The Media from TEDx Adelaide has become available, Professor Mark Tester, Director, The Plant Accelerator, Waite Campus (University of Adelaide) was one of the speakers at the event held in November, 2010. You can watch his talk in full below or at his page on the TEDx website.

Mark Tester and TEDx

We are proud to announce that Professor Mark Tester, Director, The Plant Accelerator, Waite Campus (University of Adelaide),  has been confirmed as a speaker at TEDx Adelaide 2010. Professor Tester will be speaking on the major challenges facing the world as it tries to meet world food demands in the face of global environmental change. Prof Mark Tester, Director, The Plant Accelerator

Healthy Development Adelaide Award for 2010

On July 7th Professor Maria Makrides was presented with the Healthy Development Adelaide Award for 2010 for her excellence in research contributing to healthy development.

Professor Makrides also gave a presentation ‘Meeting the nutritional needs of early life: the evidence and the myths’ you can listen to the podcast at the HDA Website