Tony Fan: Smart agriculture is an investment in our future

Many students value the applied, outcomes-driven nature of agriculture. Most professionals in the industry need to understand how changes in farming will affect the local environment and businesses’ bottom line, from farmers on a small property, to policymakers making decisions that will affect a region, to researchers developing new breeds of crops.

Tony (Haoran) Fan (China) says the Bachelor of Agriculture meets his interest in productive, ‘real life’ study.

Tony Fan
Tony Fan says smart management of land and other natural resources now will pay us back later.

“In agriculture, I feel like I learn something useful every day,” he says. This has included an international exchange to Indonesia supported by a Melbourne Global Scholars Award grant.

“I was able to take a six-week summer internship in Indonesia, including four weeks at MSMB, a precision agriculture company in Yogyakarta that uses surveillance drones, soil and weather sensors and software to collect data in real time, optimise farming systems and increase their profitability.

“It was a good opportunity for me to get an insight into work at an agricultural technology start-up and real experience which also counted towards my degree.”

Visits to the University’s Dookie agricultural campus have added to his academic learning and helped him develop an understanding of farm operations. Tony says these have been his favourite part of the degree and he plans to spend a semester based at the rural campus in future.

“The Dookie campus is unique and interesting, which gives me a lot of productive ideas and inspired me to think about ways to achieve more sustainable production.”

All tertiary study has its challenges. Tony says the smaller class sizes in the Bachelor of Agriculture have helped him bond with local students, and he has benefited from the support and resources his teachers and the University of Melbourne offers.

“When I have gotten a mark that is not as good as I’d like, the lecturer has gone over the questions with me, which is super nice,” he says.

“Teachers have also arranged revision sections for us, which is quite helpful for getting a satisfying mark.”

Tony says he sees sustainability and smart management of natural resources as a key part of agriculture’s future.

“The future of agriculture is still to be determined, but it will become more sustainable for sure,” he says.

“This will include better management of soil, sunlight, water and chemicals. I want to be part of the future, so that's why I am here and what motivates me to study hard.”

He sees enormous potential for agricultural science and technology to make farming more environmentally sustainable, with better management of soils, water, fertilisers and other inputs.

“Agriculture is an exciting, huge industry, which is evolving quickly,” he says.

“People are realising they need to find the best solution for the particular challenges they face. A sustainable company will usually have minimal impact on the environment and more resilience against climate change and challenges like drought.

“Good management of our resources now will pay us back later.”

Banner image: Research glasshouses, the Dookie seedbank and farm equipment sheds against the backdrop of the foothills of Mount Major  at the University of Melbourne's Dookie agricultural campus.