One hundred students gather for regenerative agriculture residential

Published 21 May 2021
A group of students walking through a paddock

You couldn’t help but feel hopeful about Australia’s farming future when Southern Cross University’s Regenerative Agriculture students from across the country converged on Northern Rivers farms recently for their field-based residentials.

Nearly 100 of the 150 students enrolled in the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s ‘Introduction to Regenerative Agriculture’ unit toured five farms over two days, accompanied by seven of Southern Cross University’s researchers and lecturers. The residential program gave the students a hands-on practical experience and an opportunity to meet local farmers in the Northern Rivers region running profitable enterprises, while supporting people and the environment.

Southern Cross University’s world-first degree, launched in 2020, has quickly become popular and highly-regarded for its dynamic and hands-on learning experience. Southern Cross University was ranked number 1 in Australia for Undergraduate Overall Experience in Agriculture, according to the Good Universities Guide 2020/21.

Due to recent relaxation in COVID-19 restrictions, the residential was the first time regenerative agriculture students had met face to face. According to Southern Cross researcher and lecturer, Dr Cooper Schouten, the atmosphere when the students finally met was ‘electric’.

Group of students pose for photographNearly 100 students converged on the Northern Rivers for their on-farm residential.

“These are a group of students who are committed to fundamentally improving the profitability, sustainability and resilience of agricultural production systems through their commitment to land stewardship and desire to learn skills that are based on best practice agricultural research and development. They are passionate about seeking solutions that go beyond sustainability, towards regenerative farming practises.

“The calibre of student engagement and the questions, some from third and fourth generation farmers, was extraordinary,” Dr Schouten said.

Currently, there are more than 270 Regenerative Agriculture students enrolled at Southern Cross University, including 42 Graduate Certificate students.

Man holds bunch of grass in his hand while students look onGrazier Tom Amey demonstrates strategic grazing and pasture best management practice at the NSW DPI winter pasture trial in Mallanganee.

Dr Schouten said, “There were lots of laughs and thoughtful questions during the two-day field trip where we looked at a range of case study farms, from best practice pasture management systems, to the Australian tea tree industry, figs, custard apples, beekeeping, organic vegetable production, agroforestry and more. This was a great opportunity to connect with likeminded peers, industry leaders, and researchers at Southern Cross University.”

The Introduction to Regenerative Agriculture unit explores agricultural concepts, including farming systems as part of the landscape in a geographic, climatic and human context. A long history of agriculture is explored, including first nations agriculture, challenges of contemporary farming are discussed, with a focus on sustainability challenges of feeding and clothing our growing population. The concepts of regenerative agriculture and complex socio-ecological phenomena are also introduced.

Students listen to beekeeperDr Cooper Schouten and beekeeper Pete Wilkins gave Southern Cross Regenerative Agriculture students a practical lesson in apiculture at The Farm in Byron Bay.

A man talking to a group of studentsSouthern Cross University Regenerative Agriculture students had the fortune of getting a field lesson from Senior Principal Research Scientist at DPI and Southern Cross University Adjunct Professor Dr Lukas Van Zweiten at Tail Feather Produce in Teven.

Regenerative Agriculture at Southern Cross University may be studied either as a Graduate Certificate or as a specialisation in the Bachelor of Science. Students can also design their degree by studying Regenerative Agriculture as a major in the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business and Enterprise, Bachelor of Social Science or the Bachelor of Psychological Science.

Learn more about studying Regenerative Agriculture at Southern Cross University.

Media contact: Content team, content@scu.edu.au