‘I always wanted to be a farmer’: Narrikup’s Georgia Pugh driving agtech innovation on home soil
For Narrikup’s Georgia Pugh, growing up on the family farm in the Great Southern instilled a love and passion for life on the land.
With a business mind and keen interest in “cutting-edge” agtech — an industry worth $52 billion globally — she is now helping drive innovation on home soil to bolster the State’s $11b agricultural sector.
Surrounded by animals on her parents John and Kim’s 4000ha property, where they run 12,000 sheep, 1200 cattle and Summit Gelbvieh stud, Ms Pugh always knew she wanted to be a “lady farmer”.
There is no shortage of “lady farmers” at the Pugh’s, where she and her three sisters Alexandra Pugh Riggall, Clare King and Harriet Page are all actively involved, as well as pursuing off-farm careers in agriculture.
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Once school finished, Ms Pugh studied Agricultural Science and Commerce at UWA, before undertaking her Honours in Meat Science and working as an advisor at the intersection of technology and agriculture.
“I always loved the farm and livestock and always saw farmers and my father working really hard,” she said.
“I thought, ‘how can I make life easier on-farm through technology?’
“My passion is to improve efficiency and innovation by using technology on farm to be more sustainable, improve quality of life, improve the bottom line and attract young people into agriculture.”
Following the birth of her first child, she and her husband returned from Melbourne to home soil last year.
The fourth-generation farmer is now driving adoption of agtech on the family farm, with a trial of AgriWebb software delivering promising results.
“We’ve been largely paper-based with our record-keeping for our cattle enterprise and our stud,” Ms Pugh said.
“And some of it is probably two or three years behind where it should be in terms of transferring that data to the computer to the software that we’ve used for 10 plus years now.
“Then you might have lost a piece of paper or there might be some cow poo on it and you can’t read it anymore.
“We’re looking to move that to being more app-based, tracking and capturing data as calves are born and uploading it straight away on to a computer through an iPad or your iPhone.”
While it has taken some time, Ms Pugh said she was “really excited” at how it had gone so far.
“I’m really encouraged by what we’re seeing,” she said.
“The ability to drive into a paddock, look at the ID of an animal, jump on my phone and search that ID and then I can see its treatment history, its sire or dam — it’s really exciting.
“That versus going back into the office wading through a big pile of paper and then getting to the bottom of that information.”
From drones and virtual fences to data input software and artificial intelligence, Ms Pugh said she believed adoption of technology by WA farming enterprises was critical for the future of the sector and the technology was “cutting-edge”.
“The market is maturing — $52b was invested last year and five years ago that was only $9b,” she said.
“All of this money is making it better and it’s making more products that are going to help farmers.
“I think if we as an industry embrace it and keep growing our use of innovation on farm, agriculture is going to keep going from strength to strength, become more sustainable and keep thriving into the future.
The future of women in farming and agriculture is only getting brighter, too, she said.
“I’m the youngest of four girls and we’ve all got active involvement in the farming business and in other agricultural endeavours off-farm as well,” Ms Pugh said.
“We’re just one example of farming families who’ve got daughters that are passionate about farming.”
Ms Pugh credited women on farms for being great role models for the next generation, and believed women in agriculture would continue to go “from strength to strength”.
“I think women are the backbone — raising a family and doing work at the same time,” she said.
“I’ve got a child myself and another one on the way and continue to be passionate about agriculture.
“I’m doing it for my kids as well — setting a good example for them and wanting to show them that you’re passionate about something I think is great.”
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