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Nuffield Scholarship an ‘unrivalled opportunity’

04 April 2024

Key points:

  • Applications open this month for 2025 Nuffield Scholarships, with MLA again supporting a red meat industry scholarship.
  • Queensland goat producer and 2021 Nuffield Scholarship recipient, Pieter van Jaarsveld is set to present his research findings in September.
  • Pieter encouraged anyone considering applying for a Nuffield Scholarship not to hesitate.

Investigating how to value-add to goat enterprises amid challenging market conditions has become the focus of Queensland goat producer, Pieter van Jaarsveld’s Nuffield Scholarship research.

Pieter, who operates Sunset Hill Ag Services, Inglewood, and is an agricultural data consultant and contractor, received a, MLA-supported Nuffield Scholarship in 2021.

Delays caused by COVID-19 restrictions not only saw Pieter’s travels for his Nuffield Scholarship curtailed but prompted a pivot in his research topic.

“The topic I originally planned on researching was how crossbreeding rangeland and Boer goats can increase meat production and drive greater productivity in the industry,” Pieter said.

Adapting to change

Due to Covid-19 related travel delays, Pieter’s cohort of Nuffield scholars needed to think outside the box as they had to spend a lot more time doing their research domestically than was originally expected.

“At the same time in the Australian goatmeat industry, we witnessed a large peak in people investing in and going into goats, followed by a dramatic downturn based on prices and market access.

“That has seen a lot of people question if they want to be in the goat industry, and an oversupply of goats causing a range of issues,” Pieter said.

This situation led Pieter to look beyond crossbreeding opportunities, which are great when the market is good, but possibly insufficient during challenging market conditions. He focused on figuring out how best to value-add to goat enterprises as due to an oversupply, many goat producers were not getting expected returns on selling their animals.

“There is the issue of the mandatory goat electronic identification (eID) system that’s set to start in January 2025.

“As a result, my research report is now looking at what value we can implement now, at a low cost and how we can use tools such as eID to ensure our animals remain profitable in the long-term,” Pieter said.


Pieter is the project manager of the goat industry research project Kids+ and also has goats in the trial.

His Nuffield Scholarship research topic ties in with the Kids+ project in looking at the value of implementing eID tags.

Pieter runs around 2,000 breeding does, with all does and bucks individually eID tagged to enable data collection and full traceability. 

Overseas insights

Pieter and his cohort of 2021 Nuffield Scholars will present the findings of their scholarship research at the Nuffield Australia National Conference in Launceston, Tasmania, in September 2024.

Despite not being able to travel overseas as extensively as he originally intended, Pieter has travelled to Ireland, France, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, and Argentina for his Nuffield research.

“In South Africa I had the opportunity to go on-farm and look at their systems and how producers manage their animals.

“In the UK I spent a lot of time with goat producers, and in France, went to a goat semen facility where they have a variety of goats and export a lot of that semen.

“While visits to other countries didn’t necessarily involve visiting specific goat enterprises, they did involve looking at value-added or unique farming systems in those countries. Talking to people who have been able to adapt and overcome challenges is hugely valuable,” Pieter said.

Unrivalled opportunities

Pieter said the Nuffield Scholarship provided unrivalled opportunities and he encourages anyone considering applying, to not hesitate.

“The opportunities you get by attending domestic and international events, the alumni you get to meet, and the business owners you meet are inspirational in how they’ve made a unique impact on their industry.

“Seeing first-hand how others have developed and pivoted or expanded or done something different to build resilience has been an outstanding opportunity that Nuffield has provided.

“People can travel the world and see these places, but the network of meeting actual producers, scholars and businesses who are related to farming, means you get such a unique perspective that you wouldn’t get by being a regular tourist,” Pieter said.

Nuffield Scholarship

​To be considered for a 2025 scholarship, individuals need to apply in 2024, with research and travel to start in 2025. Applications for 2025 opened in March 2024.

The Nuffield Scholarship is designed to build capacity in people to lead and innovate in Australian primary industries and in their communities. Successful scholars are selected from across a diverse range of Agricultural industries and key topic areas.

Scholars are able to travel internationally for a period of no less than eight weeks to further their knowledge and understanding of their chosen study topic. On return, they present their findings, conclusions and recommendations to the industry in a variety of formats, including written reports and presentations at the annual Nuffield Farming Conference.  

MLA provides the scholarship to support the development of industry leadership and MLA ambassadorship through supporting an annual Nuffield Scholarship recipient – a livestock producer researching an innovative global concept, technique or system relevant to the Australian red meat industry. 

The scholarship forms a component of the MLA innovation capability program which seeks to build enhanced leadership capability to develop impactful industry leaders and ambassadors for MLA.  

MLA has been an industry investor of the Nuffield Scholarship since 1996 and to-date has supported 20 Scholarships.