By Darcy Watt
NSW agronomist, farmer, business founder and agri-tech innovator, Emma Ayliffe, is the 2021 Young Farmer of the Year and says the main benefit of such an accolade is in the opportunities it brings to be part of a community of people keen to push boundaries.
Emma was named the winner at the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year Awards which were recently held at Parliament House in Canberra and officially opened by federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
“The benefits are in the networks that you build and being able to create a community around you that are all doing really exciting things and pushing the boundaries,” Emma told The Muster.
“You can talk about things that are working or not working and that’s the real value in being a part of something like this.”
Emma was nominated by Lynne Strong through her partnership with Young Farming Champions. Although Emma has worked with Strong for six years, she says her nomination came as a complete surprise.
“I didn’t even know I was in the running,” Emma said.
Emma is a co-founder of agribusiness, Summit Ag. She is currently working with 24 farms to deliver interdependent agronomic and farming systems advice for irrigated cropping with the aim of increasing farm productivity and profitability for others.
While Emma is busy running her successful company, she also runs her own farm and is an innovator for new farm technologies.
She also co-founded Yacker – a free app that connects people in the agricultural sector.
Yacker is based on a simple model of asking questions and getting answers. So far, Yacker has helped people like Scott Leslie from Gulthul Station bury barley and store it for the tougher seasons. In just one year, Yacker has had 163 problem solving conversations and 600 users.
Stepping away from corporate life
Emma’s biggest risk so far has been stepping away from the corporate sector and starting her own consultancy business, Summit Ag.
Her advice for anyone out there considering a change?
“Don’t be afraid to take risks when it comes to business. Be smart about the risks, weighing the positives and negatives. At some point, or another, you’ve just got to stop thinking and start doing.”
Emma says buying her own farm was a big risk. She and her partner, Craig Newham, manage a 688 hectare property in Lake Cargelligo. Emma is also currently running a half-half production of Canola and Wheat, as well as Fat Lambs and Merino’s.
On being so busy all the time, Emma says,
“In farming the most critical thing you can do is be on time,” she said.
Prioritising your operations and getting things done in a timely manner is the most imporant thing.”
Emma is passionate about agriculture and chairs a number of groups including: