Australians are awakening to the crucial role of farming, food production and technological innovation in meeting the global challenge of food security, environmental sustainability and climate change. From soil science to crop, horticultural and animal production, we are witnessing a resurgence in agricultural study, research and innovative practice – our staff and students are excited to share their stories with you!
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.”