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Beyond the Bale : December 2014
52 ON FARM Robert Webb from Tarana, situated between Lithgow and Oberon in the Central West of NSW, has been awarded the prestigious 2015 Nuffield Scholarship supported by AWI. He will use his scholarship to study the use of fire as a native pasture management tool. Robert’s family owns and operates a seventh- generation fine wool Merino production and beef property. Spread across two properties totalling 1190 hectares, they run approximately 2000 fine wool Merino breeding ewes, 1500 fine wool Merino wethers, 700 prime lamb-producing ewes and 150 beef breeding cows. He assists his partners with financial planning and benchmarking of the business. Along with his brother Hugh, he also runs Denhine Pty Ltd, a business managing investment and small acreage farms across Central Tablelands. Fire rejuvenates native pasture and makes it more productive, which in turn can benefit woolgrowers by improving profitability through increased fleece weight and staple strength. Robert will visit wool producing countries, as well as other grazing enterprises, to gain further knowledge of the use of fire as a grazing management tool for improving native pasture productivity. “In particular, I’ll investigate the effect of wildfire on both pasture production and soil health, plus the impact of wildfire and associated temperature on different soil types,” Robert said. “In addition, I’d like to study the nutrient contribution of ash, the effect on microbial activity on burned soils and the recovery potential of native versus introduced species in an agricultural environment.” As the Captain of the Tarana Rural Fire Brigade and 25 years’ service as a volunteer fire fighter under his belt, Robert already knows more than most about the effects of fire on the farming environment. Robert will visit Indonesia, USA, Russia and Greece to complete his studies. “AWI is proud to continue its involvement with Nuffield by offering a specific wool-focused scholarship,” said Dr Paul Swan, AWI General Manager of Research. “It is a unique opportunity for a woolgrower to study a particular subject of interest, and increase practical farming knowledge, management skills and techniques in the Australian wool industry. Previous Nuffield Scholars have contributed significantly to our knowledge of our industry.” Nuffield Australia is an organisation which provides an opportunity to Australian farmers to travel overseas on an agricultural research scholarship. It is a 16-week program consisting of both group and individual travel. MORE INFORMATION www.wool.com/nuffield Merino wool producer Robert Webb from Tarana in NSW will use his AWI-supported Nuffield scholarship to investigate the effect of wildfire on both pasture production and soil health. RECENT AWI NUFFIELD WOOLGROWER SCHOLARS By sponsoring a Nuffield Scholarship, AWI is increasing parctical farming knowledge and management skills in the Australian wool industry. AWI Nuffield woolgrower scholars and their study areas or report titles are: 2015 Robert Webb, Tarana, NSW. Robert will study the use of fire as a native pasture management tool. 2014 Tim Gubbins, Moyston, VIC. Tim is studying the Merino breed with a specific focus on the period from conception through to weaning. 2013 Matthew Ipsen, Wareek, VIC. Matthew is using his scholarship to investigate world's best practice in sheep reproduction and lamb survival. 2012 James Walker, Longreach, QLD. James is currently studying if the multiple reproductive cycle trait of ewes can be capitalised to speed up the lamb-to-lamb interval using real-time, remote weight and health management. 2011 James Robertson, Renmark, SA Report: ‘Improving sheep efficiency through weaning nutrition’. 2009 David Cussons, Kojunup, WA Report: ‘Talking agriculture - a study of communication techniques and approaches to crisis communication’. 2008 Ben Ranford, Cleve, SA. Report: ‘The role of farmer collaboration in creating supply solutions’. 2007 James Walker, Carrick, Tasmania. Report: ‘Wool and sheep production in the global market’. 2007 Andrew Bouffler, Lockhart, NSW. Report: ‘How to fully utilise and rapidly improve the Australian maternal ewe flock (including Merinos) to ensure continuity of supply into our valuable meat and wool markets’. 2006 Robert Kelly, Guyra, NSW. Report: ‘Production versus marketing: where should Australian wool producers focus?’ NUFFIELD SCHOLAR ALL FIRED UP