Farming future

Forest Primary School students researched past, present and future agricultural industries to present a whole-of-school exhibition of ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm . . .’ last month. Getting into character, Jackson Coates, 6, steps into Old MacDonald’s boots for the day. Picture: Ashleigh Force. 

Education. Exploring the National Science Week theme of ‘Drones, Droids and Robots’ students at Forest Primary School have examined how technologies benefit Circular Head’s agricultural industries.

The ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm . . .’ exhibition was held at the school last month presenting past, present and future farming technologies.

Exploring technologies such as electric fences, microchipping, irrigation, thermal imagery, drones, tractor GPS systems and weather applications, classes chose a topic to focus on before presenting their research in interactive and informative displays.

Grade five and six students scrutinised modern farming procedures before designing their ideal ‘futuristic farm’.

“We had to think of something not available now and brainstorm ideas so that farmers don’t have to take up all of their day (on the farm),” grade six student Gypsy Dunstan said.

As part of this research, the year groups took an excursion to Togari to the van Adrichems’ robotic dairy.

Hosting the students for a day-long tour, sharefarmer Arjan van Adrichem said he was impressed by the inquisitive bunch.

“A few came from farms, so they were asking how [our farm is] run differently to their dads’ farms,” he said.

“They loved how the robots worked also.”

The van Adrichems shifted their operations to the robotic dairy just over five years ago and are now reaping the benefits.

“It allows me to work gentlemen’s hours,” Arjan laughed.

“I wouldn’t go back to getting up at three in the morning.”

The dairy operates 24 hours per day with a three-paddock laneway which musters the cattle toward the dairy via timed gates.

The 220-acre farm currently services 300 head of cattle, however having recently purchased a further 320 acres next door, the van Adrichems plan to extend the robotic dairy to allow for an additional 200 cattle in the coming years.

While there was an initial outlay cost, Arjan says this replaced labour.

“Robots always turn up on time,” he laughed, “they never pull a sickie!”

The farm is now making profits from the operations with low maintenance costs.

“It’s all just plug and play,” he said.

After seeing the robotic dairy in operation, the local students drew inspiration to complete their futuristic farm which included flying transport for livestock, refillable troughs and livestock showers.

“[The exhibition] was simply a great way to showcase student learning with our broader school community,” principal Peter Brown said.

“To have so many parents, grandparents and friends of the school visit and celebrate the hands-on approach to learning is a significant highlight for students.”

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