On the Farm with Year 11 Ag
Field trips to a local family owned farm which practices regenerative agriculture was a wonderful hands-on learning experience for Year 11.
Term 2, 2022 A report by Sarah Dutton, Year 11 Agriculture student Tuesday 26th of April was our first trip to Ayrshire Park, a family farm owned by the Collins family. The Year 11 Ag class all gathered in the shearing shed and talked with Brad and Katie Collins about their farm, enterprises they run and the farm’s management practices. The Collin's have been farming regeneratively for a couple of years now and have seen much improvement in their soil quality and productivity of the farm from the change. Their aim is “To create an environmentally regenerative and viable farming business” by improving soil health, increasing environmental biodiversity, implementing innovative agricultural practices and more. Regenerative farming is way of farming that brings back the soil’s productivity and improves the soil structure. It is sustainable and looks after the ecosystem from the bacteria in the soil to the livestock that eat the pasture. This is done by keeping ground cover and maintaining it all year round, minimising soil disturbance, using integrated livestock systems and maximising crop diversity. The enterprises they run include mix pasture species (radish, clover, rye grass, oat grass, multiple native species and more), Merino ewes, trade lambs, Dorper ewes and cattle agistment. When they first changed to regenerative farming, they had to change some of their management strategies such as going from the traditional heavy cultivation to direct drill sowing and sowing mixed pastures of summer and winter dominant plants to ensure there is always a living root in the soil. On Tuesday 24th of May our class had their second trip to Ayrshire Park. This time we got to hop on the back of the ute and have a look around the farm, livestock and pasture. It was nice to get out and about and see the topics we were talking about in action. Seeing how they managed challenges like soil degradation and erosion. We performed soil tests such as pH and water infiltration. It was impressive seeing how the soil structure had improved from the regenerative farming. The pH level changed from around 5 to a neutral 6.5 to 7. Overall, it was an amazing trip which was informative and fun and we are very thankful for the hospitality and generosity of the Collins family.