Summary

Interview with Ben Jones by Deb Anderson at Manangatang in February 2005. Ben Jones is an agricultural scientist and dryland farmer. He works at the Mallee Research Station where he runs the ‘Novel Farming Systems’ project. The project looks at how GPS guidance can be used to improve crop agronomy in the Mallee region. In this interview, Ben discusses his work at the Mallee Research Station, the impact of the drought and the future of the district.

This interview is one of 24 oral histories documenting the lived experience of drought, and the cultural and historical construction of climate, and which forms the Mallee Climate Oral History Collection. This Collection is an outcome of the PhD research by Deb Anderson. In 2003 Deb Anderson received a Doctoral Research Scholarship, jointly sponsored by the University of Melbourne (Australian Centre) and Museum Victoria. The key focus of her cross-disciplinary research was the lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change in the Victorian Mallee.

These oral histories and photographs are featured in a book by Deb Anderson, entitled 'Endurance: Australian Stories of Drought', published by CSIRO in 2014.

The project has direct links to individuals, locations and themes featured in the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection, Australia's Biggest Family Album and the Future Harvest project.

Description of Content

Ben discusses his qualifications in agricultural science, growing up in Manangatang and going to school in Swan Hill, conducting field experiments in the Mallee, thoughts on the drought in the area, coping with weather uncertainties, what the Mallee looks like in a ‘good year’, weather forecasting, change in farming technology, intergenerational perceptions of drought, physical impacts of drought and the role of science in the future of farming in the Mallee

Physical Description

Imation brand Compact Disc.

Significance

This collection documents the lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change in the semi-arid Mallee wheat-belt of Victoria. This project coincided with a key moment in time when Australians were confronted with the issue of climate change and its meaning for their futures. The oral histories and photographs document the enduring historical narratives of Mallee life of endurance, adaptation and survival, which are placed in the context of contemporary concerns about drought and climate variability, and an uncertain future in a climate change world.

A ‘life history’ approach was used for each participant in the oral history project. The interviews allowed participants to talk about their lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change, in their own terms. These 22 people come from a variety of backgrounds and community involvement: farmers, financial counsellors, members of social action and welfare groups, members of local government, a newspaper editor, a nurse, educators, administrators, agronomists and researchers. The photographs support the oral histories with images of the participants in the context of their family, farm, and broader rural landscape.

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