A broad analysis of farming practices to help create change needed for future generations and secure the longevity of primary producers has earned Eyre Peninsula woman Ellen Zibell a top state agriculture award.
The co-director of her family farming business located 50kms northwest of Kimba was recognised at the 2020 Spirit of Excellence in Agriculture Awards on Friday for her farming endeavours.
As a result she won the Agriculture Scholarship, receiving an $8000 to pursue further study, take a study tour or run a special project.
The awards, run by the Agriculture Bureau of SA, focus on sustainability of the natural resources that underpin primary production in the state.
Together with her husband Brett, his brother Mark and wife Lisa, the Zibell family run 7750 hectares of land for their mixed cropping and livestock enterprise.
In her winning application, Ellen outlined her vision to diversify the family farm to grow unique ancient grains, sustainably regenerate the landscape, restore biodiversity and improve soil health to directly improve the environment, farming land and personal health.
"Taking some time to focus on raising our family, studying, and trying to help where I can with farming has given me the opportunity to live and witness the struggles of farming all around me," Ellen explained.
"I am determined to provide the best legacy we can for our three children and the future generations that wish to be involved in agriculture and I can see that sustainable farming could be the key to this."
We need to have a state of constant curiosity to move forward in the industry we love for generations to come.Kimba farmer Ellen Zibell
Largely, Ellen believes that as the next generation of farmers, different skills are required with a need to question current approaches to the industry.
"We need to have a state of constant curiosity to move forward in the industry we love for generations to come," an elated Ellen shared.
Her plans to improve future farming practices include conducting research trips to Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales to visit various farmers and experts currently using sustainable farming practices.
Ellen's quest will enable her to expand her knowledge and gain the appropriate skills to aid the farm in the future.
She further plans to pass on her valuable knowledge to local students, farmers and other interested people through a two-day Sustainable Ag Event to be held on the family farm at Buckleboo.
Meanwhile, Ellen was joined Friday evening by Riverland's Matthew Maunder who was awarded the 2020 Rural Youth Bursary.
Outgoing Ag Bureau of SA chairman Mark Grossman was also named recipient of the 2020 Services to Primary Production Award.
Mark added how the judges were met with an exceptionally high standard of applications this year, which resulted in the narrowest of win results for both awards.
"Once again, the Spirit of Excellence in Agriculture awards has provided a stellar line up of passionate and talented rural innovators as finalists," he said.
"The quality of applications made judging difficult and ABSA encourages all of this year's applicants to continue pursuing their dream projects.
Impressed were the award judges who highlighted Ellen's vision for a happy, healthy and sustainable farming community.
'She understands the strengths and weaknesses of the land, wants to learn about the natural resources on her land and how best she can work with them to achieve a sustainable balance of management and production,' judges remarked.
Furthermore, 'Ellen views the challenge of making contact with 'experts' for input and knowledge as a significant personal development outcome for her project.
'She has a close involvement with local farming groups and a strong desire to exemplify the 'Paddock to Plate' concept both in her area and beyond."
'Recognised as a clear stand out to our judging panel, Ellen has a warm and sincere approach to heraspiration to learn and make changes through simple trials and shared knowledge from other areas around Australia,' the judges added.
The Agriculture Scholarship is in memory of the late Peter and Wendy Olsen, to recognise both their contributions to agriculture and landcare in South Australia.
Generously supported by the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the awards offer young farmers and rural youth the opportunity to pursue personal and professional development to benefit their local communities.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham and Department for Environment and Water director of Landscape Services Matt Ward helped present the awards.