New generation takes to online whole farm planning

Over the past two decades, thousands of farmers have benefitted from Agriculture Victoria’s Whole Farm Planning course.

Farmers of all ages and experiences, on properties of all sizes have participated in FarmPlan21, to outline the vision for their livestock or mixed farming operation, and identify the steps they need to take to make it a reality.

Now, as with so many education courses, FarmPlan21 is being delivered online. Agriculture Victoria’s Tess McDougall said the move to online has been positive, making the course available to a whole new group of landholders.

“We are seeing younger people complete the course, the next generation of farmers who may have been out working and have now come back to the farm and want to know how they can put a plan in place to achieve their goals,” Tess said.

“We are also seeing more women take up the course, women who have had careers off-farm and have taken up agriculture later in life.”

In the past FarmPlan21 has been a six-day course run at a fixed location for six hours a day. The new free online course is run over 12 sessions, with two sessions a week. Each session takes about two hours and the sessions are recorded, so those who can’t make the scheduled time can catch up when it suits.

“More families are able to take the course, and we are also seeing multiple people from the same farm business complete the course together,” Tess said.

“Most farm businesses can only spare one person at a time to attend an off-farm course. But this way, couples can do the course together, we have a mother and daughter team enrolled, it’s opened it up to so many more people.”

FarmPlan21 covers soils and land classing, farm design and layout, farm water supply and emergency preparedness, pasture and grazing management, biodiversity and shelterbelts, farm biosecurity, climate, and outlining your farm vision and goals.

The online version of the course also includes digital farm mapping, where participants learn to use farm planning mapping systems and work on a map of their own farm.

An online course for fire and flood affected farmers, consisting of 11 two-hour online sessions, will be held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, running from 24 August to 14 September 2021, then 8 February to 22 February 2022.

The summer break will provide an opportunity for participants to begin their farm plan mapping, practise mapping skills and take soil samples and participate in on-farm visits.

“It’s a great course for people who want to define their farm’s vision and goals to give their business more structure,” Tess said.

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