Crafting Careers in Agriculture – Professor Ian Lean shares the cutting edge vision for Hurlstone Agricultural High School

Picture You in Agriculture has a long history of working with Hurlstone Agricultural High School and their extraordinary art department with the school winning The Archibull Prize three times. We are mega excited that the new farm model designed for the school by Professor Ian Lean will see students immerse themselves in agriculture of the future where we get the best outcomes for farmers, consumers and the planet

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When it comes to the agricultural workforce of the future the role of the high school can never be underestimated and facilities at Hurlstone Agricultural High School (HAHS) are currently being upgraded “to continue its legacy and contribution to agricultural education”.

Student outcomes and learning have been at the centre of decision making. The proposed farm upgrades will create fit for purpose facilities to support the next generation of students learning about contemporary agriculture and STEAM ( science, technology, engineering, art and maths)
To achieve improved agricultural education outcomes, the farm will be upgraded with co-located technology in a centralised farm hub and and the boarding facilities will be upgraded.

The proposed upgrades to the farm and boarding facilities will provide students with:
■ improved educational outcomes in agriculture and STEAM
■ new and upgraded boarding facilities with additional capacity for up to 180 boarders
■ new fit for purpose, modern farm and dairy facilities offering expanded education experiences
■ ease of farm operations and management
■ more opportunities for students to view and interact with livestock
■ collaboration opportunities with the new Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education, universities and


In this edition of our Crafting Careers series we talk with Professor Ian Lean, managing director of Scibus, who is the industry consultant working with the school to upgrade their farm.

In the December 2020 HAHS newsletter the school outlined the proposed farm upgrade:

“Hurlstone will benefit from cutting edge agricultural technology in the proposed farm upgrade. A farm hub will be at the core of the upgrade and will co-locate farming enterprises, technology, machinery and housing for livestock. It will also provide improved linkages to learning and boarding spaces. The new central farm hub means students will have access to modern technology, more viewing and animal interaction opportunities, co-located learning space, and greater collaboration opportunities with teaching staff, industry and university partnerships.”

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It sounds like a major undertaking but for Ian the driving factors are reasonably simple.

“We are marrying the concepts of compassion for animals with the science and data of modern agriculture,” he says.

In order to achieve this Ian and the development team must overhaul facilities to provide a farm that is potentially smaller but can sustain the same amount of livestock.

“We are looking at agriculture in an urban environment so there needs to be a deep consideration of the needs of the animals but also an awareness of how we interface the urban with the rural. The objective is to provide environments that would be extremely comfortable and animal friendly and also demonstrate that modern agriculture is precise, quantifiable, compassionate and oriented towards profitability.”

The dairy at Hurlstone has long been its showpiece and it has been central to the redevelopment. Robots will be introduced to aid in data capture and illustrate modern milking methods, showing students the role of this technology. All animal and plant enterprises will be designed to allow replication and research studies with a view to engaging senior students modem agricultural science. Agronomy and soil production systems will also feature.

“We want to retain the opportunity for humans and animals to bond the way they should and combine this with science so that students can understand modern agriculture. These are critical aspects that students need to see in order to formulate ideas about careers in agriculture and we will show them that we can feed the planet, nurture the landscape and look after our animals well,” Ian says.

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