Meet our new high-tech generation of Aussie farmers
IT'S HIGH time we say goodbye to the stereotypical farmer image and hello to the high-tech generation continuing Australia's agricultural legacy, says farm operator Jacob Thorley.
"Australia is leading the way with a lot of technology, so it doesn't really matter what career you're looking at doing; the agricultural industry has everything," he said.
"One of the farmers up in Central Queensland has designed and built SwarmFarm Robotics which are able to spray a field non-piloted while the farmer is doing other things.
"He's had a lot of people from the universities coming up to have a look and work on them."
Born and raised in the Lower Clarence, Mr Thorley said it wasn't until he entered the cotton industry did he realise the number of opportunities for career development.
"They have things like a Cotton Gap program running with Cotton Australia where you're paired up with a farmer for 12 months," he said.
"In that time, you get the opportunity to acquire tickets and skills that can take you anywhere. I know of people who have toured up and down the state working for different farms."
Mr Thorley said he'd originally enlisted in the Army, but fate would direct him down the agricultural career instead.
"I was injured in a football game which delayed my entry into the Army by nine months," he said.
"I've never been one to sit around so I thought I'd go out and work during the cotton season. Since then, I've never looked back."
Though, he did admit it was a culture shock to start with.
"It was an eye-opener going from green to dirt," he said.
"Over there, it's hundreds of kilometres of dirt and you go from seeing lots of people to hardly anyone. When I first joined I felt pretty isolated and didn't know what to expect."
Fortunately, the industry accommodates for this lifestyle change with social programs and events.
"There's really good community involvement there where you get to meet other workers and over time inevitably become close friends," Mr Thorley said.
"The irrigation/broadacre farmers do it particularly well with their charity golf days, meetings, field days and workshops."
Now firmly entrenched in the lifestyle, Mr Thorley is a rural ambassador for Emerald.
"It's like an agricultural representative. It's very similar to the Jacaranda Queen, except I don't get a crown," he laughed.