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Grafton High students to benefit from ‘smart farm’ funding injection

12 February 2019

Agriculture students at Grafton High School will benefit from a $27,000 donation made to the school’s farm by the Yulgilbar Foundation.    

The funding injection will be used to kick-start the school’s move towards ‘smart farming’, a concept which uses modern technology to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural products.  

A remote weather station, a direct drill seeder and a drone will be some of the major purchases made by Grafton High School (GHS) using the grant.

Made possible with support from national education charity Schools Plus, the Yulgilbar Foundation donation will provide a much-needed boost, according to GHS Principal Peter South, who said making the shift to ‘smart farming’ is a slow and expensive process.  

“We are constantly looking for ways to ensure Grafton High School’s agriculture curriculum is relevant to contemporary farming models, and this generous donation from the Yulgilbar Foundation means our students will be exposed to the latest practices in a hands-on way,” Peter said.

“Our funding submission to the Yulgilbar Foundation outlined how important automation, precision, technology and sustainability were to modern-day smart farming, and we’re thrilled they saw the value in supporting our students to put some of these elements into action.”   

Farming has been studied at Grafton High School for almost 100 years, with the school’s first rural course introduced in 1923. Students were able to take agriculture for their ‘Leaving Certificate’ from 1946. In 1948 the school was granted six acres on Alumny Creek and agricultural activities were transferred there from the area that is now the school oval.

These days, students from Years 7 to 12 use the farm daily in their study of Tech Mandatory Agriculture, Agriculture Elective, Senior Agriculture and Primary Industries. Students study vegetables, poultry production, aquaculture, hydroponics, sheep production, cattle production, sugar cane, fruit and nuts, weather, fencing, and chemicals and weed management, just to name a few.  

Grafton High School’s smart farming initiative is one of more than 500 projects to be supported by Schools Plus (schoolsplus.org.au) since it launched its operations in early 2015.

A national education charity, Schools Plus was established to help improve education outcomes for students facing disadvantage. The charity’s unique tax status means anyone can make a tax-deductible donation to schools in need via Schools Plus.

Donors may include parents who want to support a project at their own child’s school or individuals who are passionate about a strong education system. Schools Plus also offers advice and facilitates more strategic giving from individuals, businesses and trusts who want to provide significant or ongoing donations to high-potential projects.

The Yulgilbar Foundation was established by Sarah and Baillieu Myer with the aim of strengthening the capacity, resilience and prosperity of rural, regional and remote communities. The Foundation has a particular interest in supporting programs that benefit the Northern Rivers District, including the Clarence Valley.

It also supports the Clarence Science Initiative at South Grafton High School, which provides science and engineering education opportunities for about 100 local primary school students each year.

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