Preparing the farm workforce of the future

Tocal are revolutionising the training of farm workers


Machinery
FUTURE FARMERS: Tocal lecturer Matt Notley spoke at the Australian Farm Institute Digital Farmers conference about how to prepare the farm workforce of the future.

FUTURE FARMERS: Tocal lecturer Matt Notley spoke at the Australian Farm Institute Digital Farmers conference about how to prepare the farm workforce of the future.

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Tocal are revolutionising the training of farm workers

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IN A WORLD of digital disruption, the farming workforce will require a different skill set. 

Speaking at the the Australian Farm Institute Digital Farmers conference, Tocal, precision agronomy lecturer, Matt Notley said the farming workforce required a new paradigm in terms of training. 

Referencing a previous speaker who talked about the need to bring skills from other sectors together, Mr Notley said students often asked what they should train in to meet the future needs of farming. 

“I tell them I don’t know, what does the industry want? We talk about silos, we need to identify the skill set that will break down those silos,” he said. 

Farm workers are big data, we need to harvest what they know - Matt Notley

“There are people out there, who want to learn how to be better employees in the agricultural sector.

“We need to provide them with some sort of framework they can work towards.”

Mr Notley said it was important when designing training programs to target across the whole workforce.

We need to ask, am I achieving value? - Matt Notley

“We need to make sure it isn’t just targeted at youth in agriculture,” he said. 

“That can potentially cause a disconnect from the younger generation to people out their already managing and advising.

“We don’t want to have a disconnect, people out there, in those roles, are there for a reason.”

There wasn’t a precision Netflix adviser going town to town, but we all worked out how to use our Netflix account - Matt Notley

Mr Notley said for a successful training program resources such as funding, software and hardware were required, potentially from industry. 

“That is what keeps our training modern and relevant,” he said.

“Training is expensive by the time you develop and resource a course.

If something is intuitive, it is easy to train - Matt Notley

“Getting support from the industry is very important.”

Mr Notley said Tocal had attracted the NSW government’s AgSkilled funding, which along with industry hardware and software support from brands such as Sirrus, Marshall Spreaders, Incitec, Topcon and Massey Ferguson meant the college could concentrate on other training resources. 

“The program has come a long way in a short space of time,” he said. 

“We are reaching not only our own students at Tocal, but also farm workers and advisers, making sure the industry is upskilling as a whole.

“We are focused on both new technology along with base agronomy and application skill sets.”

There are people out there, who want to learn how to be better employees in the agricultural sector - Matt Notley

Mr Notley said his own background working on a grain property following school motivated him to develop the program. 

“I realised it was really hard to learn at a farm-gate level, as nobody was there to teach you,” he said. 

Mr Notley said his experience gave him respect for the knowledge in the existing farm workforce. 

“Everyone loves big data, it turns up everywhere,” he said. 

“With our training we get asked, what is big data? I tell them it is lots of little data.

“We need to capture all the little data and farm workers are the little data gatherers.

“Farm workers are big data, we need to harvest what they know.”

We need to provide them with some sort of framework they can work towards - Matt Notley

Mr Notley said for digital farming to progress it needs to be intuitive, consistent and simple. 

“Netflix is a great example,” he said.

“There wasn’t a precision Netflix adviser going town to town, but we all worked out how to use our Netflix account.

“If something is intuitive, it is easy to train.”

Mr Notley said it was also important to focus on how to be a better farmer now. 

“We need to realise this to achieve the value of digital agricultural,” he said. 

“Because if I’m not being a better farmer now, why do we need to worry about it.

Mr Notley said it was important to have measures of success when it came to new technologies. 

“We need to ask, am I achieving value?,” he said. 

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