Ellie Carter named Reef Champion
FOR A lass from Yorkshire, the sheer size of some Central Queensland properties still proves overwhelming.
Ellie Carter won the Extension Officer Award at the Reef Champion awards ceremony held late last month.
Her work with the Fitzroy Basin Association, on innovations such as remote livestock management, results in her travelling all around Central Queensland.
“A huge farm in the UK is about 2,000 acres but here I’m visiting properties which are upwards of 1.8 million acres,” she said.
Ms Carter’s love of the outdoors grew from “a bit of a paddock” where her family kept their own sheep, but her mother didn’t want her horse-mad daughter to go into farming.
“We’d had so much trouble with BSE or Mad Cow Disease, there was no money in farming and she didn’t want us kids to struggle,” she said.
Nevertheless, Ms Carter followed a diploma in horse management with agricultural business studies in Australia.
“It was a gap year that grew to two and now I’ve been here nine years,” she said.
“I worked on a Hereford cattle station in Victoria and I was in Mount Isa when I applied to work with the FBA.”
As an extension officer, Ms Carter travels to Injune, Clermont, Wandoan, Nebo and when she’s off the clock, she visits the Carnarvon Gorge, Blackdown Tablelands and Great Keppel Island.
“I feel so lucky to live in such an amazing place,” she said.
“We have so much right here on our doorstep.”
In particular, Ms Carter spends a lot of time with three landowners in Springsure, Theodore and north of Blackwater near the Mackenzie River.
They were selected to trial a walk-over weigh unit which supplies them with real-time data via their phones.
The system, which was developed in Alice Springs, can measure pasture greenness and cattle growth rates, or read cattle ID to separate them into different paddocks.
It can take three or four weeks to train cattle to use the system, and after three years Ms Carter said it was early days for useful data.
“It’s about building a relationship with the landowners which will stretch beyond the life of the current research program,” she said.
“They are some of the smartest people I know.
“There are so many things outside their control – the weather, stock prices – but they’re always open to new ideas and support when it comes to how they run their places.”
Her clients have also hosted field days so others can inspect agricultural innovations such as telemetry, monitor drones and satellite ear tags.
Ms Carter also spent time with The Cathedral College’s cattle show team, speaking about grazing management and wetlands.
“When it comes to the management of this country, there’s a lot of emotionally driven hype on social media which is not scientifically correct,” she said.
“It’s hard to see the truth when everyone’s putting in their 10 cents’ worth.”
Ms Carter said events such as the Reef Guardian Awards were good for recognising how landowners balanced productivity with sustainability.
“I spend my time with people who commit themselves to regenerating the landscape, keeping water on their place and providing wetlands for birds,” she said.
“It’s about long term management and symbiosis.”
Other Central Queensland winners at the Reef Champion Awards included Jolly Rogers Fishing Club, Neil Farmer and Graham Volck.