Hi everyone, my name is Braedon Halle and I am a junior at MSU studying Environmental Studies and Sustainability. I am from a small western Michigan town named Middleville and I grew up surrounded by rural fields, forests, and lakes. This upbringing in nature is one of the reasons that I was drawn to a field of study regarding the environment.
On the side of hobbies and interests, I am a third year member in the Spartan Marching Band where I play the Baritone. I also am a fanatical biker, which is good because trying to bike through winters on campus is a serious test. While relaxing you can catch me playing video games, working out, playing D&D, or watching Spartan football and Basketball.
I am extremely excited for the trip to Australia. I have been to many nations like Spain, and Mexico, but Australia has always has been a place on my bucket list. I can’t wait to learn about what Australia is doing in response to climate change, as well as, how they are dealing with issues like sustainable food and agriculture. On top of this, I am really interested to see all of the unique animals that call Australia home.
While in Australia, I will be researching water. Specifically, I want to research the Farms and Businesses in Australia to see if they are doing enough to conserve water resources as well as use them efficiently. This issue is being exacerbated by the growing problem of climate change and global warming. Temperature as a whole is increasing in Australia, with most areas seeing above average to very above average temperature decile ranges (theconversation, 2018). The same goes for rainfall. In 2018, a majority of eastern Australia is seeing rainfall ranges that are “very much below average”, and some areas reporting the lowest decile ranges on record (theconversation, 2018). See below for the relevant charts. The climate issue in Australia is only anticipated to get worse. Trends indicate that at current rates it is estimated that some rivers in Australia could be five degrees Celsius warmer by 2090 (Mattahei pg. 225, 2019). On top of this is the water usage per person in Australia. There is a considerable difference between the costal and inland regions average water usage but the country as a whole averages around 340 liters per person a day (RCC, 2016). I find this very interesting because it puts Australia in line with the United States for water usage. The average range for the United States is 302-378 liters per day per person (Oceansvibe, 2018). This use of water is concerning considering the differenced in rainfall between the two countries. I am also interested to see the differences as well in how the U.S. and Australia respond to water related issues. The United States has certainly not treated some of its water reservoirs with care as key aquifers like the Ogallala have seen drops in water level as much as 150 feet (Michaels, 2017). See below for the relevant map for water losses. This difference will be very interesting to explore as I travel in Australia.
My trip to and throughout Australia was an incredible and humbling experience. I got to learn from the people of the region and experience Australia’s unique and scenic beauty. Over the course of the trip I was able to bear witness to the various sustainable efforts that the farms and businesses used to conserve water. The first thing that stood out to me was the use of a style of irrigation called “Drip irrigation”. This form of irrigation helps to save water by applying the daily needs directly onto the stem and roots instead of using overhead sprayers. Two places that we visited that used this form of irrigation were The Varapodio Olive Estate and The Wirra Wirra Winery. Pictured below is a photo that I took depicting the beautiful rows of grapes that are grown using this style of drip irrigation. I also saw innovations in the form of making water last for longer. Jigsaw farms dug their dams and reservoirs deep to cool the water held within and protect it from evaporation. Jaques Coffee Plantation used an automated watering system to reduce water waste and recycled water in their wet factory to make it last longer. Likewise, The Nerada Tea Plantation created settling ponds for water used in the tea making process so that it could be returned to the environment. Based upon what I have learned I would say that yes, Australian farms and businesses are doing enough to try and conserve and more efficiently use their water resources. On top of this is a mentality in Australia that is much different than what I have experienced here in the U.S. Most people in Australia that I met understood the importance of water resources to the country. This was also seen in the housing where most residents had some form of rainwater collection tank alongside their house. This consciousness of resource scarcity is one thing that definitely sets Australia apart from the U.S. Overall, my trip to Australia was fun and enlightening and I am very grateful and fortunate to have gotten the chance to go on such an amazing trip.
Here are some relevant links to some of the places I visited on my study abroad if you want to learn more about the places that I mentioned in this blog:
http://www.varapodioestate.com.au : Varapodio Olive Estate https://www.wirrawirra.com/ : Wirra Wirra Winery http://www.jigsawfarms.com.au/About-Us.html : Jigsaw Farms https://www.jaquescoffee.com.au/ : Jaques Coffee Plantation https://www.neradatea.com.au/visit-us : Nerada Tea Plantation
Braganza, K. (2019, April 18). Australia’s 2018 in weather: Drought, heat and fire. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/australias-2018-in-weather-drought-heat-and-fire-109575
Average Water Use. (2016). Retrieved May 4, 2019, from https://www.rwcc.nsw.gov.au/save-water/average-water-use
Have A Guess How Much Water The Average American Uses Every Day – 2oceansvibe.com. (2018, February 07). Retrieved from https://www.2oceansvibe.com/2018/02/07/have-a-guess-how-much-water-the-average-american-uses-every-day/
Sabater, S., Elosegi, A., Ludwig, R & D. Matthaei. (2019). Multiple stressors in river ecosystems: Status, impacts and prospects for the future.
Michaels, M. (2019, February 21). Study Shows Changes in Great Plains’ Ogallala Aquifer. Retrieved from https://www.weathernationtv.com/news/study-shows-changes-in-great-plains-ogallala-aquifer/