The Farmer eXchange project, a collaborative web application boosting knowledge-sharing and best practices in Australian agriculture, will be launched early next year.
The project was funded $168,700 by the Farming Together program to be a virtual meeting place, fostering greater farmer-to-farmer collaboration through knowledge and research-sharing via message boards and interactive learning tools. AgriFutures Australia has also supported the initiative.
Founder Airlie Trescowthick said the Farmer eXchange app was the first of its kind. “We spent months interviewing our peers, trying to figure out what they needed, and what was missing from their day-to-day practices,” she said.
“It became clear that there’s a giant gap in knowledge-sharing; farmers simply didn’t have an easy, accessible way to ask questions, or seek crowdfund-sourcing advice.
“The Farmer eXchange is our solution to this issue. There is no doubt that online methods of communication and information-gathering are increasingly woven into our farming lives. We believe the Farmer eXchange app will play a significant role in ensuring the ongoing growth and success of our industry,” said Deniliquin-based Airlie. (pictured with Hugh Landale)
The Farmer eXchange will be accessible to farmers signed up to the Farm Table (www.farmtable.com.au) from early April 2018. Farmer registration to the Farm Table is free.
David Armstrong, a farmer from Junee said: “I see there is considerable benefit to be gained by providing a platform where farmers can discuss with each other the issues and challenges they are facing, in a trusted, welcoming environment online.
“The social and health benefits in creating a platform for such dialogue is huge. Not only would the platform become an area for sharing farming success stories and ideas, but also it would be a safe haven to share those more-challenging times on-farm, where you can share your learnings and mistakes with other farmers and lighten the burden of a bad day at work.”
The project’s development is being driven by 12 farmers from across Australia, who established the inaugural farmer advisory group in 2017. They are: Lewis Johnston (broadacre cropping, Williams, WA), Matthew Young (horticulture and livestock, Sassafras, Tas), Lauren Petersen (dairy, Warrnambool, Vic), Tegan Bathgate (agricultural student Marcus Oldham College, Geelong, Vic), Aimee Snowden (fodder and agricultural advocate, Tocumwal, NSW), Josh Small (mixed irrigation and livestock, Deniliquin, NSW), Hugh Landale (rice and livestock, Pretty Pine, NSW), David Armstrong (mixed farming, Junee NSW), Joel Orchard (market gardener/food systems activist, Mullumbimby, NSW), Carissa Wolfe (organic dairy, Taree, NSW), and Stuart Austin (beef producer, Hernani, NSW – previously NT).
Farmer advisory group member Joel Orchard said: “I am really rapt to be involved in this. I see real value in digital networks as a tool to provide peer support and capacity building for the development of the sustainable agriculture industry. For our next generation of farmers and food producers, online platforms are an essential component to developing relations with consumers, accessing information and forming connections.”
The app will launch in late-April 2018, following a national roadshow starting in late-March. For more information, email Airlie Trescowthick (firstname.lastname@example.org).