Skip

Australian and New Zealanders Get a Taste of South Plains Agriculture

Australian and New Zealanders Get a Taste of South Plains Agriculture

Story by Dee Ann Littlefield and Quenna Terry

International agriculture leaders, known as the Nuffield Scholars, visiting the United States on a week-long tour made a stop at Bingham Family Vineyard and Organic Farm, owned by Cliff and Betty Bingham in Meadow, Texas.

In addition to the grapes in their vineyard, the Binghams grow organic crops of cotton and vegetables. They are a family operation with all eleven of their children helping in the business.

�It is really wonderful to see this family involve their children,� says Nuffield Scholar Helen Thomas, a sheep rancher in Australia. �Lack of interest from the younger generation is a worldwide problem in agriculture.�

Jimmy and Susan Wedel drove from their farm in Muleshoe to discuss the challenges and opportunities of organic farming, including crops best suited for organic production, pest management and marketing practices.

Rhett Kerby, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist in Brownfield was on hand to talk to the group about conservation practices for organic producers and specialty crops.

Crop diversity and drip irrigation were the topics of interest at Greg Methvin�s farm near Levelland. Methvin farms grain sorghum and cotton, serves on local cooperative boards marketing his grain sorghum at the local, producer-owned grain sorghum ethanol plant in Levelland.

Hockley County AgriLife Exension Agent Chris Edens, a recent visitor to Australia, was able to relate to the Scholars the challenges agriculture producers in Hockley County face that are similar to Australian farmers.

USDA-NRCS District Conservationist Lynnette Payne talked to the group about conservation measures that can help mitigate resource issues the Australian and New Zealanders face such as wind and water erosion with soil, as well as how a good grass cover can help protect against soil loss.

The group enjoyed a barbecue lunch hosted by Hockley County Soil and Water Conservation District the at the Ag Products barn in Levelland.

In the afternoon, the Nuffield Scholars toured the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association denim mill in Littlefield, Texas. The group learned how the denim mill is unique in that it is farmer-owned from the time the seeds are planted in the field until the cotton is made into denim jeans.

Mark Brown, Lubbock County Agrilife Extension agent, provided history of the area on the bus ride throughout the day. In the evening, he gave the Australians and New Zealanders a special treat when he and his band played West Texas swing music in the beautiful setting of the Llano Estacado winery in Lubbock.

The evening at the winery was hosted by the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers.

The Nuffield Scholars are traveling the globe for six weeks, looking to develop potential and promote excellence in all aspects of Australian agriculture through the adoption of local and international best practices and the networking of industry leaders.

Tour includes stops in England, Ireland, Belgium, Canada, United States (Washington, D.C. and Texas), and China. The 2010 Nuffield Scholar group has diverse agriculture backgrounds, including beef cattle, lambs, dairy cattle, bees, vegetable and grain crops, as well as lobster fishing.

The tour, which began in Amarillo, will end at the Fort Worth Stockyards on July 3, with stops at ranches and farms along the way. With offices is in nearly every county in the United States, the USDA-NRCS is well suited to introduce the Australians to outstanding agriculture leaders and decision makers in Texas while showcasing agriculture technology and conservation practices.

For more information on the Nuffield Scholars, visit their website at www.nuffield.com.au. For more information on the NRCS in Texas, visit our website at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.

The Australian and New Zealand Nuffield scholars toured the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association denim mill in Littlefield, Texas.

Australian lobster fisherman Ben Tyley and Western Australia dairy farmer Ed Cox enjoy Texas hospitality at a barbecue lunch hosted by the Hockley County Soil and Water Conservation District at the Ag Products barn in Levelland.
The Australian and New Zealand Nuffield scholars toured the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association denim mill in Littlefield, Texas. Australian lobster fisherman Ben Tyley and Western Australia dairy farmer Ed Cox enjoy Texas hospitality at a barbecue lunch hosted by the Hockley County Soil and Water Conservation District at the Ag Products barn in Levelland.
Muleshoe, Texas organic farmer Jimmy Wedel visits with Australian farmer Alan Redfern about organic crop production and irrigation efficiency methods. Cliff and Betty Bingham (right) gave the Nuffield Scholars a tour of their Meadow, Texas vineyard, explaining the use of water-efficient drip irrigation in the production of wine grapes.
Muleshoe, Texas organic farmer Jimmy Wedel visits with Australian farmer Alan Redfern about organic crop production and irrigation efficiency methods. Cliff and Betty Bingham (right) gave the Nuffield Scholars a tour of their Meadow, Texas vineyard, explaining the use of water-efficient drip irrigation in the production of wine grapes.