Speed Dating Event Matches Right Ideas With Right Advice

Elaine Seager
June 16, 2017

An agricultural speed dating forum in Babinda this week was all about matching the right idea with the right advice, as farmers, agronomists and technical experts came together to thrash out ideas. This event is made possible through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.

Wet Tropics Regional Landcare Facilitator, Fiona George, said the event was part of Terrain’s innovation strategy to link technical advisors and mentors with farmers who have a good idea they want to get off the ground.

“It’s all about connecting people. Farmers and landholders often say they don’t know where to get information, and a lot of technical people say they’ve got all of this info but don’t know how to get it out there. It’s a bit experimental, but taking a speed dating approach to filling this gap is a fun way of linking people in with support and thrashing out ideas together,” said Ms George.

An added benefit was being able to provide farmers with a $1000 subsidy to engage an advisor or mentor to help with their good idea.

So what is a good idea? Anything a farmer thinks is a good idea, said Ms George. “For example, he or she thinks 'you know what, I’ve heard about this pinto peanut, I don’t know enough about it but I think it could work in my system', and they come along here to see if someone else can help them. And as it happens, we’ve got someone else here who has been growing pinto – it’s very difficult to get the seed, so these two people are taking the opportunity to talk all-things-pinto.”

Mark Toohey is another farmer who’s keen to talk innovation. He farms avocados and beef cattle near Ravenshoe, and explained that great ideas can be invaluable for freeing up time. He’s particularly interested in the Internet of Things, a concept which is about connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet. It means Mark can control things like electric fences, or receive data about tank levels, straight to his phone.

“Automating simple tasks is even more important when there’s distance involved. That’s man hours saved when you don’t have to go and turn things on and off. Freeing up time is invaluable – it means I can come to things like this.”