Gordon resident Martin Harmer has been awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship for a project that aims to allow farmers to make more informed choices about pasture seed variety selection.
Mr Harmer is a pasture seed researcher with PGG Wrightson Seed Australia, one of eight researchers based in Ballarat.
He says farmers in Australia are forced to make important and expensive decisions about deciding which pasture variety to buy without reliable and independent product performance information.
“Pasture improvement is one of the better investments farmers can make, to turn around underperforming pastures,” Mr Harmer said.
“Australia is at the very early stages of developing systems similar to what our international competitors have.
“There are many different products for farmers to choose from, and many countries around the world help farmers wade through the many different options available to them by running independent trials.”
Mr Harmer will travel overseas to research these independent pasture variety evaluation schemes, with particular focus on their structure, management, funding and marketing.
Mr Harmer says his fellowship will enable him to travel through Europe, Uruguay and Argentina.
“The most advanced and developed schemes are in Europe; they have decades of work there. They are very proactive about providing information to farmers there,” Mr Harmer said.
“Uruguay and Argentina have compulsory state systems to help their farmers.”
Mr Harmer said he had a passion for farming from his youth, which led him to pursue an agricultural science degree.
The Churchill Fellowships were established 51 years ago as part of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, enabling their recipients to travel to research their chosen project. They are worth on average $26,000.
The focus of a fellowship is to identify an area of need in a community, rather than particular studies. Twenty-three Victorians are among the 106 Australians awarded fellowships this year.
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