Mastering the dairy industry
BEN Vagg from Leongatha South has spent the past 12 months in New Zealand as an inaugural recipient of the Dairy Australia trans-Tasman scholarship.
The scholarship gave Ben the opportunity to study a one year Postgraduate Diploma in Agriculture Commerce at Massey University.
Ben received one of two scholarships and he said while there, he was able to study and further his knowledge of the dairy industry.
“Prior to receiving the scholarship, I completed a double degree in agricultural science and business, which I finished halfway through 2012,” he said.
“I then worked at Hamilton Landmark for about seven months before the scholarship required my resignation. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.”
Ben said the 12 month course stretched him to think about farming from a strategic point of view, and he learnt things he had never been exposed to before.
“Of farmers in New Zealand, I believe it is around 30 per cent who have a tertiary education. They have gone to university to study agriculture,” he said.
“In Australia, that figure is less than five per cent. In New Zealand, their understanding of what the business is doing can be greater and it shone through as I was doing my diploma.
“We had a lot of hands on contact with real farmers, who are very open with their information.”
Ben said OneFarm, a joint venture between Massey and Lincoln universities, helps farmers to become good business managers.
“Farmers need to be good business managers, not just good workers,” he said.
Ben is currently back in Australia visiting with family and friends, and finishing off some final study.
“I have been helping out on the farm working and milking. I came back just in time for the silage and hay season,” he said.
“I plan to return to New Zealand at the start of February to complete my Masters and if all goes to plan I should be there for the next 12 months.”
Ben plans on undertaking a research based project and said he wants to learn more about New Zealand’s supplementary feeding regimes on dairy farms.
“They don’t have the cereal crops available to them like Australian famers do. They tend to use different products and techniques,” he said.
“I would like to expand my knowledge and understanding of that area for when I return to Australia.”
Once he has completed his studies, Ben is considering roles in on farm development and business management, focussing on the dairy industry.
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