PhD Student Profile

Linda Wirf

Charles Sturt University

This qualitative research explores the question “How can gendered knowledges contribute to agricultural practice change in Australia?”. The literature indicates that although women have unique knowledges and perspectives, they are under-represented in agriculture outreach. The aim of this research is to provide a deeper understanding of the ways that women and men farmers view agriculture. It will explore the potential for including women’s knowledges and perspectives in agriculture in Australia to facilitate practice change that will support agriculture sustainability in a context of changing weather, soil degradation and increasing complexity.

PhD Title: “Beyond adoption: gendered knowledges in agricultural practice change in Australia.”

PhD start date: November 2020

Supervisors: Professor Catherine Allan, Charles Sturt University, Dr. Hanabeth Luke, Southern Cross University, Dr Sarina Kilham, Charles Sturt University.

What interested you about this sort of research?
My mother grew up on a dairy farm that was worked mostly by her mother, so the concept of a woman farmer is part of my history and psyche. I have lived most of my adult life on the land. Although not farming I have experienced many of the phenomena that impact farmers and their land management decisions, including bushfires, droughts, floods, remoteness and isolation, feral animals, and invasive weed species. I have lived among farmers and seen the environmental impacts of intensive agriculture practices. This environmental degradation threatens to constrain agriculture practice into the future. My interest in this research is shaped by my belief in the need to change agriculture to be more regenerative and environmentally sustainable and I believe that women farmers have a key role to play in this transition.

What do you love about soil?
I love the fact that soil supports plant life and is an integral part of an ecosystem that all species including humans depend on for survival. I love that soil stores and holds water and supports a complex underground system of mycelium. I love the fact that degraded soil can be regenerated and brought to life again.

What do you love about your PhD?
It is such a privilege to be able to focus so intensely on one topic for three years. The journey of discovery as research progresses is exciting and stimulating. Being connected to and supported by an awesome academic community is truly wonderful.

How will your PhD help to make a difference for farmers?
My PhD will help farmers by opening a space for transformation in agriculture practice by including women’s knowledges and perspectives. Co-creation of knowledge with both women and men will promote innovation and expand the framework for practice change.

What do you want to do when you finish your PhD?
I never plan too far ahead as I like to make the most of opportunities as they arise, but I definitely want to communicate the results of my research widely and contribute to ongoing sustainable agriculture practice in Australia.

Visit my ResearchGate profile