Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI), the owner of The Woolmark Company, is a not-for-profit company that invests in research, development and marketing for the Australian wool industry.
Nuffield Australia 2018 Scholar
Scott Nicholson from Stawell, Victoria, receives a Scholarship supported by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).
For his study topic, Scott will research ways technology can help modernise and improve profitability in the sheep and wool industry. Scott said an increase in global demand for Australian food and fibre, and greater community scrutiny, will drive the need for new technology to help improve the management of livestock in breeding and handling.
Scott operates Bretton Estate, 2900 hectares of owned and leased land with a mixed farming system that includes 4500 merino ewes for wool and lamb, broadacre dryland cropping, hay production and a lamb finishing system. Scott is also a partner in Sohnic Merinos at Marnoo, which is focused on breeding merinos to optimise overall profitability.
He believes technology such as the adoption of mandatory electronic identification (EID) tags in Victoria has great potential to boost the industry through its improved traceability of individual sheep.
Scott said the industry can expand on this and will focus on researching technology in DNA and genomics; EID for performance recording and feedback; farm management software; handling and drafting equipment; drones and robotics; virtual fencing and remote sensors.
“With the continuing need to expand operations to keep pace with the constant cost price squeeze, sheep enterprises will need to get larger and much more efficient. Technology is everywhere, it’s just a matter of sorting out the developments that can be of real benefit to the industry,” he said.
Scott will travel to sheep producing countries to see the technology used in New Zealand, and North and South America.