A giant inflatable plant cell, world experts on farm production and smarter ways to grow crops and produce livestock sustainably in increasingly hotter, drier conditions will headline a big program of events at this year's UWA Future Farm 2050 Field Day at Pingelly on Friday September 6.
The annual showcase of rural science research at The University of Western Australia's 1500-hectare wheatbelt property 158km south-east of Perth aims to help growers and livestock producers develop innovative new strategies to adapt to changing conditions and increasingly volatile global food markets.
It also aims to encourage more young people to consider UWA pathways to studying agricultural science as a future career for the benefit of local farming communities and to help keep Australia at the forefront of developing new cutting-edge knowledge and technologies for domestic and international agriculture.
UWA Future Farm 2050 is a large-scale laboratory for advanced research into farming systems by scientists from WA's leading university which was recently ranked 26th in the world for life and agricultural sciences, according to the world's foremost performance indicator, the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
Growers and livestock producers will be able to discover UWA Future Farm's vision for world-class production systems, discuss latest advances in farm research and hear from leading scientific experts about best-practice techniques to further develop agricultural food production for current and future markets.
"We are using innovative science to find new ways to farm sustainably while meeting the challenge of producing enough food to feed a world population that will grow by 50 per cent to nine billion people by the year 2050," says Winthrop Professor Graeme Martin, Deputy Director of UWA's world-class Institute of Agriculture (IoA) and Deputy Leader of IoA's Animal Production Systems Program.
"Our aim is to use advanced science to help farmers develop production in financially profitable ways that are ethical and healthy, and produce enough food worldwide for current and future generations."
As part of UWA Future Farm 2050's commitment to community education, 40 high-achieving Year Nine students from Applecross Senior High School recently visited the farm on a study tour with Senior Honorary Research Fellow Dr Lyn Abbott, from UWA's School of Earth and Environment.
They learnt about sheep biology, visited shearing sheds and pens, planted salt-reducing trees from seeds they grew at school, studied soil bacteria, saw how root fungi help crops grow, investigated tiny soil animals and learnt how green corridors can preserve native fauna and biodiversity in isolated habitats.
About 60 Year Eight Science Academic Extension Program students from John Curtin Senior High School in Fremantle and students from Ardross Primary School visited UWA Future Farm 2050 in July, and at least 80 students from schools at Brookton, Beverley Narrogin and Pingelly will attend the Field Day from 9.30am to noon, when they will be greeted by UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson.
The community part of UWA Future Farm 2050 Field Day will run from noon to 4pm on September 6, starting with a discussion of efficient food production and animal welfare by visiting Oxford University Professor Marian Stamp Dawkins, and talks by leading experts on Australia's Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and the rural economics of lamb production.
On-farm demonstrations will include soil management strategies, planting of native shrubs as sheep fodder to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and best-practice farmhouse and water management.
The world's biggest inflatable plant cell - a 10m x13m bouncy castle-like structure developed by UWA to demonstrate plant science to budding young researchers - will be available for kids to romp in near the main farmhouse. Lunch and refreshments will be sold from student stalls, and refreshments available on arrival and during the break.