Talkin’ Sus Ag with the Next Gen

On Wednesday October 5th Our Sus Ag Project Officer Anna got to spend some time with the next generation of creative minds at the NextGEN Entrepreneurs School Holiday Workshop. NextGEN is a competition to introduce school children in WA to the concept of problem-solving with new improvements or a clever idea for a Carbon Zero Future.

The students attend a series of workshops run by Scinapse, Pollinators Geraldton and Euphorium, and present their innovative new ideas at the pitch night event. There are three age categories where students can win up to $500 in each.

In the workshop, Ruben from Euphorium and Lara from Scinapse unlocked the students’ creativity and problem solving skills through the Theory of Change. The students learnt how to come up new ideas and solutions through creative thinking, communicate feedback to other students’ ideas, expand on their own designs, test their designs, and finally present them. 

Anna was asked to talk about ways the agriculture industry is changing practices to become more sustainable and reduce carbon emissions, and how NACC NRM’s projects are involved. Anna touched on the environmental impacts of historical land clearing; including wind erosion, biodiversity loss, poor soil fertility, water repellence and the disruption to the carbon cycle. The students were already very familiar with the carbon cycle and land clearing, providing answers and asking in-depth questions to expand their knowledge on the subjects throughout. Anna explained NACC NRM’s Growing Great Ground project which is aiming to improve groundcover and on-farm biodiversity through perennial pasture and native vegetation plantings and other sustainable agricultural practices. The group also talked about some other carbon zero examples in the agriculture industry including spreading compost/manure on crops and pastures, carbon credits, planting legumes to fix nitrogen into the soil, tools/app for farmers to track their carbon emissions, and electric farming vehicles. 

The students then came up with their own innovative sustainable agriculture ideas by making a prototype and providing feedback to each other. Some of the ideas they came up with included an autonomous electric solar powered tractor, an app that connects grocery shoppers to products grown by sustainable farmers, a solar powered compost machine, and a new crop that can be grown in the summer season to ensure year-round groundcover on the paddock.

NACC NRM looks forward to seeing if these awesome Sustainable Agriculture ideas make it to the pitch night in December and hopefully beyond in to the future of carbon zero farming.

For more information about the NextGEN Entrepreneurs competition visit: https://www.pollinators.org.au/nextgen-entrepreneur

The Growing Great Ground project is supported by the Australian Government’s Regional Landcare Partnerships initiative of the National Landcare Program.

Anna Cornell – Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer

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