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Matthew Rigby's success story

Matthew Rigby from Kojonup Western Australia, worked as an electrician for several years before making the change to Agriculture.

“I left school at 16 and got a trade. I did that for about six years, working on Grain Corp sites and doing maintenance for them in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia,” Matthew said.

Even though Matthew does not come from a family farm, he decided to take on a new challenge and to have a go at working in agriculture.

“It has always been an interest of mine. I wanted to do agronomy but I didn’t finish year 12, so at that stage the education system didn’t let you,” Matthew said.

Instead, Matthew got a job as a farmhand in Victoria, and then moved to Western Australia to continue farming. He took on his current role as Cropping Manager in Kojonup, which he has had for two years.

“I’ve always had a real passion and interest in farming, it’s a great career choice; you’re always going to need farmers and it’s a fast and progressive industry,” Matthew said.

Matthew is currently looking after a 1000 hectare cropping program in a mixed farming enterprise that also runs about 16,000 sheep. An average day for Matthew might include spraying, agronomy and sheep work, as well as being involved with Southern Dirt.

“When there’s a lull in the cropping program we’re doing paddock preparation and sheep work, and all the stuff involved in animal husbandry as well,” he said.

“I start work at 7am and finish at 5.30pm and do whatever needs to be done to keep the farm going around. It changes every day, that’s the beauty about it!”

Matthew also keeps an eye on the market and new crop varieties. “We change rotation, not drastically, but we try to get the best of every square inch of the farm and make it profitable and sustainable,” Matthew said.

Matthew enjoys farming because it offers him flexibility, work-life balance and an outdoor lifestyle. He especially likes that the industry is continually innovating and driving change.

“I really enjoy the country life. We’ve got a good young group of people encouraging us at the moment, so I enjoy the social aspect as well,” Matthew said.

Along with the many benefits of Agriculture, Matthew also recognises the challenges of his role – the weather and seasons, maintaining healthy animals, and pest management.

“There’s no day or year the same. There’s always something different happening or a different challenge that you have to overcome,” Matthew said.

In addition to farm work, Matthew has recently upskilled by completing a Diploma in Agriculture through Rural Business Training. He has completed the 2017 Australian Young Farmers Leadership Program through GrainGrowers and has applied to be a member of their National Policy Group. Matthew is also on the Board of Southern Dirt and Southern Dirt Young Farmers.

Matthew hopes to progress in the industry, and he has an aim to one day be a farm manager. He likes working in the community of Kojonup, and believes that you need to make the most out of every day in the industry.

“Not every day is going to go to plan, but you just have to take it on the chin and roll with it.” Matthew said. “Out in the remote areas, you also need the social contact – community is such a wide and important thing.”

Matthews tips for those wanting to get into farming:

– Just get into it if you want to have a crack and then work out where you want to go from there.
– Find a good employer and go for it.
– If you want to study, remember there are many online options.
– Getting on-farm experience is probably the most important thing – that’s where you learn the most.
– There’s value in being able to adapt, change and be realistic.

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