Professor Jon GH Hickford BSc(Hons) (Lincoln College – Cant) PhD (Otago), Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand (CRSNZ), Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science (FNZIAHS) Molecular genetics of livestock including sheep, goats and cattle with particular emphasis on gene-marker technology to breed healthier livestock. Directs the operation of the Lincoln University Gene-Marker Laboratory. Jon has worked at Lincoln University since 1989, teaching into science and agriculture degree programmes. He undertakes research in molecular genetics with emphasis on using gene-marker technology to breed healthier livestock. He is actively involved in the community in discussions about science, gene technology, agriculture and sheep breeding. Jon was born and educated in Christchurch, and is married to Kim with three sons, Thomas, William and James and a daughter Isabelle.
Jonathan’s presentation will focus on his observation that it is very easy to get caught up in the hubris around new technologies like genomics, and primarily because we are all optimistic when it comes to what we think they might deliver in future. The problem is of course that we only ever have 20:20 vision in hindsight, and so often the promise of a better future doesn’t quite deliver the things we imagined. This will be true of genomics, because while it is now easy to find genes, it is still immensely challenging to work out how they are switched on and off, how they interact with each other, and how they interact with the environment. In that context Corriedale breeders do need to support genomics approaches, BUT also realise they need to also use more conventional quantitative genetic approaches for key traits and good breeding practice for qualitative traits. All that, and keep a close eye on the market, and rising consumer demand for natural products produced from sheep farmed with the highest welfare standards and transparency in the production system. No one says it will be easy!
Agriculture and Horticultural Studies, Ballarat Grammar
Matt has been teaching Agriculture and Horticultural Studies at Ballarat Grammar since 2009. He is responsible for Year 10 Aghort Elective, VCE Units 1 to 4 Aghort and VET Cert IV Agriculture. As the Farm Manager at Ballarat Grammar he looks after the 125 acre property, which lies 4kms north from the main School campus. Since the purchase of the farm 8 years ago, he has implemented a new farm plan, redesigning the fencing, paddocks and laneway system. The School runs a Lowline Cattle stud, a Corriedale sheep stud, pigs, poultry, horses and cropping, as well as pasture improvements. Over 2000 native tress have been planted in an extensive program to improve biodiversity across the farm. Each year the sheep and cattle are exhibited at a range of shows and events, including ASBA Bendigo, Sheepvention and Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne Royal shows at various times in the past. Ballarat Grammar has over 70 students currently studying Agriculture at the school. One of the highlights for Matt is catching up with past students who are now working in the industry.
Corporate Communication Manager, Australian Wool Innovation
Marius Cuming is the Corporate Communication Manager at Australian Wool Innovation, parent company to The Woolmark Company. He also owns and runs a small woolgrowing and prime lamb business in western Victoria with 1800 ewes. Coming from a background in rural journalism, he is responsible for communicating with woolgrowers about what AWI does on their behalf but has initiated a number of programs that have bridged the gap between the farmer and consumer. Marius enjoys connecting woolgrowers with designers, brands, processors and ultimately, consumers and speaks as a passionate farmer, woolgrower, woolclasser and agricultural scientist.
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