Advisory Panel spotlight: meet Mick Faulkner agronomist and Export Fodder Advisory Panel member

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In 2020 consultant agronomist Mick Faulkner joined the Export Fodder Advisory Panel. With 30 years of experience consulting with the export fodder industry and growers, Mick has witnessed firsthand the growth and development of the industry. He was motivated to apply for the Export Fodder Advisory Panel to contribute to the further growth and development of the export fodder industry.

We took some time to get to know Mick and his vision for the future of the industry.

How are you involved in the export fodder industry and what inspired you to join the Advisory Panel?

I have been involved in the export hay industry for about 30 years. A number of my farming clients were amongst the first growers for the fledging industry many years ago and have developed with the growth of the sector.

I have always had a strong interest and involvement in research and development (R&D). This has allowed me to be on the front foot when providing advice to both growers and the processing and marketing entities to meet market demand, consistency of supply and product quality. The evolution of objective measurement was something I had to be involved with as the industry developed.

Having participated in, and played an active role in extending R&D I saw an opportunity to join the Advisory Panel to drive research, development and extension (RD&E) for industry growth and development. Working closely with growers and exporters I have a strong understanding of their needs and now have the opportunity to help set the direction of RD&E– to determine what the appropriate parameters are for the market, to assist in meeting these parameters and to break the nexus that exists between cereal hay yield and product quality.

Personally, a key goal is to help set the stage for industry growth and development through R&D and we’re making key progress towards this.

What would you describe as your major achievements in the industry so far?

At the farm level being able to assist producers in their pursuit of creating a solid enterprise has been very rewarding. This has meant having some input into all aspects of the industry from variety selection to chemical residues, toxin identification and management, innovation in machinery for hay production, developing protocols for field research and assisting in developing parameters of hay quality–especially those relating to animal preference and performance.

For the wider industry being able to understand the supply chain has meant a more focused farm enterprise and national industry with emphasis on processor, market and customer requirements,

What are your RD&E interests in the export fodder industry?

For me, providing safe and valued products for the market, creating adequate yield and quality for the producer and to assist and understand the requirements of the post farm, processor and market sectors is key.

Risk reduction is a major priority, be that to maintain and increase the financial output at the farm level, to achieve the requirements for the enterprise, to reduce the amount or exposure to weather impacts, to provide a safe product free from residues, toxins and contaminants and to position Australian cereal hay as the preferred source of fibre to the market.

 

What do you hope to achieve for the industry, and what are you most looking forward to?

I’m really keen to see the industry to overcome the, usually, negative impact of increasing yield on quality. In reality, oat hay yield has not increased in 20 years which is partly because when pursuing yield, the quality typically declines. In most other cropping or livestock industries there has been a consistent increase in yield over time and quality has either been maintained or increased. It is time that cereal hay production reverses its current trend.

Another key priority for me is reducing weather damage, spoilage and low value hay and investing in processing innovations and marketing programs that increase financial returns to all sectors. I would love to see high yields of high-quality hay with no toxins or residue issues that is widely sought by the market and delivered by an efficient and innovative processing sector.

What advice would you have for researchers and/or consults about the export fodder industry?

It is not new but do the homework, do the research well, be innovative and look forward and upward.

Learn and learn more, and when you’ve learned something make sure someone gets a benefit.

Don’t be afraid of new methods, weird concepts, new products and new thinking. The industry has steadily grown, but it must adapt to an era of disruptors, climate change, market and political uncertainty and the technology that is sweeping the world. Being a leading industry in this environment should be satisfying to all those involved.

Interested in applying for a role on an AgriFutures Australia Advisory Panel?

AgriFutures Australia’s Advisory Panels consist of industry experts who meet regularly to determine research, development and extension (RD&E) priorities and make strategic investment recommendations to AgriFutures.

If you are passionate about making a positive contribution to your industry and would like to be notified of opportunities within the AgriFutures Australia Advisory Panels, please submit an expression of interest and we’ll notify you when we are recruiting for new members.

Submit an expression of interest Read more on the Export Fodder Program and Advisory Panel

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