BIOSECURITY practices in hay and fodder production will be at the forefront of Claire Peterson's mind as she embarks on a Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarship.
The Collingullie farmer will investigate biosecurity practices, production methods and climatic influences on the establishment and spread of pests and diseases in hay, ideally across the United States, South Africa, France, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.
However, the exact locations explored will be determined by the ongoing updates to the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.
A big part of the Nuffield Scholarship is disseminating the information back into the rural sector.
"I will be working closely with my sponsors Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia to share research outcomes with the wider industry," she said.
"Successful hay making is based on the production of a rapidly growing, dense crop with good weed and pest control, which is critical for both establishment and subsequent yield and longevity," she said.
"A significant threat to hay growers is the introduction of new pests, weeds or diseases to their hay crops. This affects both production, through decreased yield, and also increases costs with additional spraying, labour and potentially resowing required."
Claire said large amounts of hay was moved across the country during drought times.
"This increases the risk of new pests and diseases being introduced and establishing in different areas," she said.
"Now is a perfect time to look at the affects this may have had," she said.
The Nuffield program has attracted 20 agriculturalists for the 2021 period.
Nuffield Australia chief executive officer, and 2013 scholar, Jodie Redcliffe, said 2021 scholars were a contingent who had a shared mindset that change, adaptation and innovation were central to the future growth and sustainability of agriculture.
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"For 70 years, Nuffield Australia has remained committed to ensuring the delivery of high-quality and valuable scholarship programs that drive industry leadership, particularly through periods of adaptation and change," Ms Redcliffe said.
"Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Aussie farmers are facing significant pressure across domestic and international markets, variable seasonal conditions and evolving consumer demands," she said.
"The 2021 scholars are seeking to address some of these critical priorities by researching opportunities for new markets, the sustainable use of natural resources and strategies to meet societal expectations across all aspects of food and fibre production."
Ms Redcliffe said the participants would gain access to world-wide and world-class producers, agribusinesses and research institutions to conduct valuable research, that will drive change and innovation in agricultural industries.