Local farmer James Hawkins has received a Nuffield scholarship supported by Rural Bank.
James, of Neuarpurr, just across the Victorian border, will investigate the amelioration of hostile/sodic clay soils to overcome soil productivity limitations through deep placement of organic material as a means of increasing biomass production, yield and improving water use efficiency in dryland and irrigation systems.
James is the owner and managing director of P.I.G.S, an operation managing pigs for a Victorian outdoor bred pork producer and processor, The Pastoral Pork Company. Together with the family property, ‘Brippick’, the enterprise produces 2000 tonnes of compost annually, which helps to manage soil health and promote sustainable farming practices.
He also manages a contract hay/straw baling business and will complete a Master of Agribusiness with Marcus Oldham College by the end of 2017.
James plans to investigate how Sub-Soil Manuring (SSM) can increase the soil’s ‘bucket size’ through soil chemical, physical and biological changes so as to provide gains that will create an increase in profitability for producers, which could last over ten years.
“I wish to further expand on current research through investigating SSM in an irrigation setting and to explore the potential for irrigation water savings,” James said.
“This work will also examine the lack of machinery available for SSM, which is limiting producer uptake, along with the possibility of high concentrate, ameliorant alternatives.
“SSM presents a massive opportunity for productivity gains per hectare that could last for more than a decade after treatment. I intend to develop a greater breadth of knowledge, both internationally and locally, and to translate this knowledge into a format that is accessible to farmers in order to benefit their businesses.”
James plans to travel to the UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany and the USA.
James is one of 24 Nuffield scholarship recipients for 2018.
Rural Bank has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited since 2010 and is the only Australian-owned and operated dedicated agribusiness bank in the country. Their vision is to provide exceptional financial services, knowledge and leadership for Australian farmers to grow. They partner with their customers to help them build sustainable businesses and vibrant communities.