Nuffield Australia 2019 Scholarship winner
Anthony Close, a mixed livestock producer from Culla, Victoria, receives a Nuffield Scholarship with support from Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) to research ways that the Merino can once again become a prominent feature of the Australian farming landscape.
Anthony works on his family farm, running 7,000 self-replacing Merino ewes to produce wool, prime lambs and breeding rams. Anthony’s family also run a large cattle operation, comprising a commercial Red Angus herd and Red Angus and Senepol stud cattle.
Acknowledging the shrinking size of Australia’s sheep flock throughout the past 20 years, Anthony said his focus will be researching the range of factors that have caused this reduction, comparing the industry with those overseas to gain a better understanding of what makes progressive industries grow and prosper.
“In 1992 the national sheep flock was 150 million head, and produced 4.75 million bales of wool. In 2018, the flock is 70 million head, and will produce 2 million bales,” Anthony said.
“Cropping, on the other hand, has grown from 12 million hectares planted to 19 million hectares planted.
“Given the impact that this reduction in flock numbers has on both sheep meat and wool production, it’s important to understand how we can reverse this downward trend in order to secure the sustainability and relevance of the industry.”
Anthony’s research will take him to New Zealand, South Africa, Uruguay, the United Kingdom and the United States as he investigates ways that the Merino can once again become a prominent feature of the Australian farming landscape.