Nuffield scholars making the world of ag a better place

What Australian agriculture needs are a group of passionate and dedicated farmers to help improve the industry through education, advocacy and research.

May we present to you the 2019 Nuffield Scholars!

This group of 17 Australian farmers from across the country are embarking on research projects, sponsored by Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars, to
increase practical farming knowledge and management skills and techniques.

The scholars will have the opportunity to study farming practices in New Zealand, Europe, Asia and the Americas and those countries best suited to the scholar. They will also promote a closer understanding between farmers in the countries visited.

Upon returning to Australia it is expected that scholars will be able to actively spread the knowledge and understanding they have gained among their fellow farmers and others.

The 2019 Nuffeild Scholars.

Meet some of the scholars:

Natasha Shields

Natasha own a Certified Organic Vegetable growing business that spans 190 acres across three properties in Victoria and New South Wales. 

She will investigate alternative packaging options and shelf-life outcomes for fresh produce in the current drive to minimise the use of plastics in Australia’s retail environment.

She believes that the community – particularly her organic customers – are increasingly concerned about current packaging options, and are demanding material that’s biodegradable or has a minimised its impact on the environment, while at the same time extends the shelf life of the produce.

“The fact is that good looking vegetables on a shelf sell, whereas tired and dehydrated or wilting produce is either marked down or thrown out, which results in fewer sales for the retailer and fewer orders for growers like us,” Natasha said.

“Despite plastic extending the shelf life of organic produce, our broad customer base is telling us they want another solution. Through my research, I hope to uncover new materials being utilised by companies and producers around the world, and bring those learnings back home.”

Frank Miller

Frank is CEO of African Mahogany Australia, where he oversees the largest plantation of its kind in the world, in addition to running a substantial fodder cropping operation in the Northern Territory.

Through his research, he will investigate ways to realise the optimal value of Northern Australian timber investments.

Frank’s study program will specifically focus on African mahogany plantations and examine how diversification can benefit investment, as well as identify emerging market opportunities for the product, both in Australia and abroad.

“The African mahogany industry is showing great promise here in the Northern Territory. My research aims to increase knowledge for the industry by exploring ways to enhance value through smart land-use management, especially during the plantation’s growth phase,” he said.   

Ellen Litchfeild

Ellen is a third-generation farmer from the northern pastoral area of South Australia. Together with her family, they run an organic production system with 5,000 predominantly Angus cattle and 10,000 Dorper sheep.

Through her research, Ellen will investigate the impacts of climate change on red meat production and profitability in arid and semi-arid rangelands.

Currently completing her master’s in sustainable agriculture, Ellen is passionate about bridging the knowledge gap between leading research institutions, producers and industry bodies on the effects of climate change, and delivering solutions for a stronger, more sustainable red meat sector.

“On farm, we face very unpredictable rainfall patterns which means innovation has to be a key part of our business. The effects of climate change are being realised and it’s becoming increasingly important to research ways of ensuring resilience in this changing environment.

“Through my Nuffield Scholarship, I hope to link in with the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework and focus on key priority areas such as consumer confidence, managing climate risk and profitability across the value chain, and deliver these findings to industry bodies and producers on my return.”

Ellen will also investigate the resilience of red meat producers against production barriers and how the industry’s journey towards a more sustainable future is being conveyed to the consumer in order to meet changing ideologies and demands.

For more information about the program and the scholars research project CLICK HERE.



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