Dookie Day explores the future of agriculture and the Goulburn Valley region’s Indigenous heritage
Over 950 people saw the latest agriculture and food research and learnt about Indigenous history and culture at Dookie Day, the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences’ annual community engagement event in the Goulburn Valley.
Activities at the event focused on our past, present and future through the 2019 theme, Planting seeds today for tomorrow.
The theme expressed both the importance of research and education at the campus to the future of agricultural sustainability and profitability, and the region’s rich Indigenous heritage.
You can view a gallery of images from the day below.
The Faculty commissioned a podcast series for Dookie Day, which explores the future of agriculture and food, with episodes focusing on high-tech precision agriculture, sustainable crop farming and the future of dairy. The podcast team also asked students about their experiences studying at Dookie, and the connections that link the campus with Indigenous knowledge, arts and activities.
For Dookie Day 2019, the centre of the campus was divided into seven precincts.
- Student Hub: Over 500 students study at Dookie each year.Current students and staff gave course advice to attendees, and held information sessions on the Dookie-based Diploma in General Studies, as well as the Bachelor of Agriculture and masters and research courses.
- Transformed by Technology: New technologies are transforming agriculture.Faculty staff demonstrated sensors for precision agriculture and plant stress measurement and the use of drones for agriculture.
- Hungry Harvest: New research and old knowledge are delivering distinct and innovative flavours. Guests sampled bread made with unconventional and native Australian grains and yeasts, tasted food incorporating ingredients used by Indigenous peoples, blended smoothies using their own pedal power and sampled wines made at Dookie and nearby wineries.
- Sustainable Crop Production: Agriculturalists are increasingly aware that to be successful into the future, farming must be sustainable. Researchers showed how to grow and serve nutritious microgreens, demonstrated a microwave weed killer, showed the seven major soil types across Dookie campus’ 2,440 hectares and ran a mock biosecurity surveillance activity.
- Dairy Farms of the Future: Dairy continues to be an important agricultural industry for Australia and a focus for innovation. Guests explored potential careers in the industry and Dookie’s dairy research, found out how much a dairy cow eats in a day and took tours of Dookie campus’ robotic dairy.
- Paddock to Plate: A great deal happens between the farm gate and your plate. Visitors learned how sheep meat production is changing with consumer preferences, saw how different processing affected flavour and sampled mutton prepared using new techniques to improve flavour.
- Country and Place: Australia has over 60,000 years of Indigenous knowledge to draw upon, and this precinct celebrated that heritage. Kaiela Arts showcased local artisanship and the Wilin Centre, which runs the Ancient and Contemporary Indigenous Arts subject at Dookie, held workshops where guests learned to make jewellery and fishing nets.
Dookie Day began with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by Ulupna Clansman Dixie Patten and an address by Professor Duncan Maskell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.
Student ambassadors based at Dookie led tours for key guests from Melbourne and local government and industry. These included Professor Maskell, Mayor of Shepparton Cr Kim O'Keeffe, Chief Scientist for Victoria Dr Amanda Caples and Danielle Green MP, representing the Victorian Minister for Agriculture.
The day included a panel discussion on Agriculture Victoria’s on-farm ‘Internet of Things’ trial, which is exploring how information communication technology integration can benefit the horticulture, sheep, dairy and broadacre cropping industries, and how to break down barriers to the adoption of new technologies.
Professor John Fazakerley, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, thanked attendees and volunteers, and said the event illustrated Dookie’s value to the University of Melbourne and the Goulburn Valley community.
“The farm and campus provide a place for applied learning and direct experience of the environment, irrigation, soils, crops, horticulture, livestock, wine-making and brewing,” he said.
“Our staff and graduate researchers work on solutions to issues in agriculture, often in collaboration with local industry.
“It is increasingly clear that the campus is an important part of our organisation's future and the future of Australian agriculture. Our engagement and place in the community is growing and strengthening.”
Around 640 prospective students, alumni and members of the Goulburn Valley community explored the University of Melbourne's Dookie agricultural campus on Sunday 9 September.
Around 150 academics, professional staff and students led tours, gave presentations, organised activities and delivered other assistance for the event, bringing numbers at the campus to around 800 on the day.
Dookie Day, first held in 2017 following the redevelopment of the campus’ teaching facilities and student accommodation, showcases the School of Agriculture and Food’s teaching, industry engagement, research and capabilities.
Visitors were able to discover the University's agricultural and veterinary science courses, meet students and watch presentations on what they had learned during the industry-focused Dookie Semester of the Bachelor of Agriculture, see new developments in agricultural research and technology and listen to seminars presented by scientific experts. A farmers’ market sold fresh local produce, including fruit grown at the campus.
The day started with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by local Yorta Yorta man Graham Briggs.
Seminars throughout the day explored genomics and data science in crop biotechnology, soil management for environmental benefit, lab-grown meat, technology in equine veterinary medicine, the importance of farm advisers and fenceless livestock farming.
Visitors could also watch demonstrations of agricultural drones, virtual reality teaching tools that allow city-based students to see agricultural processes first-hand, biometric monitoring of meat consumers, shearing and wool classing demonstrations and tours of Dookie's student accommodation, teaching spaces, solar panel farm and glasshouse.
There were also a range of alumni-focused activities, including a morning tea, a refitted Dookie Museum and a dinner to celebrate the campus’ history and future the night before Dookie Day where 80 attendees heard presentations from Head of the School of Agriculture and Food Herbert Kronzucker and current students.
Dookie Professor in Residence Timothy Reeves delivered the keynote presentation, in which he said that while the School of Agriculture and Food produced a diverse range of graduates, they shared a common need to understand the context of the agricultural industry.
He said the Dookie experience delivers this efficiently, effectively and enjoyably.
“Listening to some of the third-year students tell their audiences that the Dookie experience was one of the best things in their life was very emotional and uplifting," he said after the lecture.
Professor Reeves also emphasised the industry experience the Dookie campus delivers to its students through frequent exposure and interactions with the 2,440-hectare commercial farm; industry excursions to farms, processors and marketers; which are complemented by visits and demonstrations from agronomists, vets and specialists from the dairy, pig, sheep and wool industries.
“The campus engages with over 40 different organisations in the Goulburn Valley region,” Professor Reeves said.
“This broad range of experiences not only makes an outstanding and valuable contribution to the education process, but also gives the students industry exposure and an insight into potential future jobs – some third-years already have job offers.”
Third-year Bachelor of Agriculture student Tiffany Miller, who has chosen to complete her studies based at the campus after completing the Dookie Semester last year, said the day exemplified the Dookie experience.
“Dookie Day really brought together the students at the campus as a family, rather than separate cohorts,” she said.
“We were able to work together to show off the campus that we are really proud of, which is what Dookie day is all about.
“We want people to love Dookie as much as we do. It’s just an overall amazing experience with some of the most amazing up and coming ‘aggies’ to enter the industry.”
Story by Stuart Winthrope. Gallery images by Shape Creative and Stuart Winthrope.
The Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences hosted a community open day at the Dookie campus on Wednesday 18 October 2017 to engage the local community, industry and stakeholders in the Goulburn Valley.
Around 300 visitors were able to see demonstrations of research based at Dookie and the Faculty's other campuses, learn about our courses and see the recently upgraded Swinburne Hall and A Dorm, where Bachelor of Agriculture students in the Dookie Semester have been based this semester.
A gallery of photos from the day by local photographer Liz Arcus is available here.
Swinburne Hall was officially opened by Deputy Chancellor Ross McPherson in a ceremony attended by University Executive. The Executive also attended an engagement lunch with Faculty staff and local VIPs where Faculty Dean John Fazakerley and Provost Margaret Sheil presented on the Faculty and University's commitment to the campus, and to the Goulburn Valley.
The 90 Bachelor of Agriculture and Diploma in General Studies students based at the campus guided visitors and gave presentations on what they had learned at the campus.
Other Dookie Day highlights included:
- Demonstrations of drones that monitor plant health by Sigfredo Fuentes and Engineering's Rodger Young
- Weed control with microwaves instead of pesticides, by Graham Brodie
- Tours of the robotic dairy Demonstrations of the Faculty's sensory testing sensory testing technology
- A research showcase to demonstrate Parkville and Werribee-based research, teaching and veterinary clinical services
- Tastings of beer and wine made at the Dookie winery, including a gold medal-winning shiraz brewed by students in the 2016 Vine to Wine breadth subject
- Seminars on mastitis control, preventing footrot in sheep, sheep progeny evaluation and farm investment by Faculty staff and experts aligned with the Faculty.