Climate change and labour hire touted as the major concerns for international farming entrepreneurs at Charles Sturt University gathering

NEW IN TOWN: Innovate UK's Calum Murray and Cropdesk founder David Trehane in Wagga during the agricultural tour. Picture: Emma Horn

NEW IN TOWN: Innovate UK's Calum Murray and Cropdesk founder David Trehane in Wagga during the agricultural tour. Picture: Emma Horn

Despite the 15,000km channel of distance, the experience of agricultural producers in both the United Kingdom and Australia is becoming increasingly similar.

Touring across Australia, 13 UK-based agricultural entrepreneurs stopped in Wagga on Monday to share their mission for international collaboration.

Head of agriculture and food at Innovate UK, Calum Murray from Scotland told The Daily Advertiser it is climate change that is leveling the worldwide farming experience.

"We're interconnected, there's a knock-on effect throughout the world. We're dealing in global supply changes, so we need to recognise that we can't export our [environmental] footprint from the UK, and simply resource things from elsewhere to go unilaterally net-zero or climate neutral," said Mr Murray.

"We need to be inspired by some of the challenges that are being experienced firsthand by those [with] more extreme weather patterns than perhaps we [have]."

David Trehane's family is steeped in agricultural history. In 1949, his grandfather became the first to introduce commercial crops of blueberries into England.

"Before us, blueberries didn't exist in the UK," he said.

"My grandfather saw an article in Farmer's Chronicle that read 'one hundred free blueberry plants to anyone who wants them in the UK'. He was one of only four people who said, 'oh yes please, we'll try those'. He was an innovative guy.

"A few years later, my mother who was working on a tree nursery few hundred miles away from home, got a telegram that said 'dear Jennifer, 1000 blueberry plants arriving Queen Mary December the 6th, how about it?' and that was the first commercial blueberry plants in the UK.

"Up until the mid-90s we were still the only commercial producers in the UK."

Years later, Mr Trehane has witnessed enormous changes to the farming industry.

As the founder of Cropdesk Mr Trehane has devised a system to indicate the minimal water levels in soil.

"I saw a need for some software that would effectively manage harvesting more efficiently, and we're now looking to bring in sensors so that if you put in another 5cm of water [for example], you can see what's the effect going to be on your crop," he said.

For Mr Trehane, Brexit's effect on labour hire is of greatest concern. He believes the recent Australian bushfires may result in a similar challenge.

"It's such a real shock for you over here to have those fires, and I just feel so much for those farmers. I know several that have just had their entire [harvest] wiped out, it's terrible," he said.

"Labour is about 42 per cent of an average soft fruit farmer's expenditure and that comes off their sales. For the next few years that's going to get even harder ."

This story International farming entrepreneurs arrive in Wagga to share collaborative solutions first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.