Shaking up the fields: Nuffield Scholarship winner's radical approach to farming

Shaking up the fields: Nuffield Scholarship winner's radical approach to farming

As the age-old adage goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention." This saying holds true in the world of farming, where fifth-generation farmer Carlos Bagrie is spearheading an agricultural revolution on his family's farm, Royalburn Station. 

Bagrie’s innovative farming practices have not only caught the attention of New Zealand’s rural community but also earned him the prestigious 2024 Nuffield Farming Scholarship. His unique approach to farming is transforming waste into resources and scaling up a small side project into a thriving business, among other things. 

Bagrie told REX host Dominic George that his circular farming solutions are a game changer on his farm.

“We're recycling waste, we're turning what could be a waste product into a resource,” he said.

This fascinating approach to waste management takes the concept of recycling to a whole new level. As Bagrie shared, waste products like straw from barley or pea harvest and chicken manure are turned into resources and used in the market garden. But Bagrie's innovation doesn't stop at zero-waste solutions. 

He has also successfully scaled his side project of rearing chickens from 100 chicks to a whopping 4,500. He admits the process wasn't easy, but he's a firm believer in risk-taking and learning along the way. 

"We saw, with a hundred, you know, and it was just in the side, it was like, oh okay, we'll have some chickens, yeah, yeah, yeah, We'll see where that goes," Bagrie recounts. 

“You know, to get to a certain scale, for it to actually make money, you have to keep pushing and pushing, pushing, pushing.” 

Moreover, Bagrie’s innovation is even brewing up a storm. He is set to launch a beer project that he hopes will bring the farming and brewing industries closer together. 

“We grow lots of barley...We kept back our silos worth for ourselves, and with that, we decided look, let's get it malted and then let's ship it to the brewery and let's see what we can do ourselves,” he said. 

In the face of all these innovations, Bagrie remains humble and passionate about his work, highlighting the importance of communication in farming. He emphasises the need to bridge the gap between farming policies and public perception through effective communication, fostering better relationships, and shaping the future of farming. 

“People just want communication and I feel as if as a farming industry, as a body, it's that opportunity for us to have those direct relationships, to talk to city dwellers, to explain what we're doing.” 

Listen to the full chat between Carlos Bagrie and Dominic George above.

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