Talking dirt . . . Nick Webster explains the importance of soil quality on his Enfield dairy farm to a group of Agriculture students from both Waitaki Girls' and Waitaki Boys' high schools. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

Waitaki secondary school pupils received a tiny taster of farm life on Tuesday, with a field trip to three different North Otago farms.

Almost 40 agriculture pupils from both Waitaki Girls’ and Waitaki Boys’ high schools visited arable (crop), dairy, and sheep and beef farms to gain real-life learning as part of their Level 1 NCEA curriculum.

The trip was organised with the help of North Otago Sustainable Land Management (Noslam) and a barbecue lunch was provided by Fonterra Farm Source. Waitaki Girls’ High School agriculture teacher Jessica Wright said the trip provided a “broad base day” and it was great to get the pupils involved in real-life learning.

It provided the pupils with great examples of “diversification of land use” in the area, as well as different options available in employment.

There was also a visit to a North Otago Irrigation Committee holding pond, where the pupils observed and listened to discussion on the irrigation scheme.

It was important the pupils understood the impact of irrigation on land use and also on the economy, she said.

Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil Lily Wickham had also done year10 agriculture and wanted to be a vet when she grew up.

“I’ve always been on a farm, and always loved agriculture,” she said.

“Just being outdoors and doing stuff with animals.”

Hunter Wilson from Waitaki Boys’ High School said he was keen to get into farming, and it was “good to get out and see what farming’s all about.”

Noslam engagement officer Bridget McNally said they packed as much as they could into one day, because it was difficult to get pupils away from their other subjects at year 11.

It was the first year the agriculture classes from the two schools had combined, and organisers hoped it could become a regular occurrence.

Farm Source Waitaki area manager Pam Phipps-Cudmore said it was good to make agriculture pupils, especially the girls, aware that the industry provided career choices in all areas, not just on-farm.

Fonterra employed 20,000 people around the world.