Esperance grains and sheep farmer takes out 2019 Rural Women’s Award

Minister and award winner together
Minister Mactiernan (L) and Belinda Lay winner of the 2019 Agrifutures Rural Women's Award at the award ceremony held in Perth earlier this month

Esperance-based grains and sheep farmer Belinda Lay was announced as the Western Australian winner of the 2019 Agrifutures Rural Women’s Award at an awards ceremony held in Perth earlier this month.

Over that past two decades, the award has acknowledged and supported the essential role women play in rural businesses, industries and communities. The award provides a platform to inspire and support Australian women to use and develop their skills to benefit their industries and communities.

Mrs Lay received a $10,000 bursary to help progress her on farm discoveries through collars that monitor sheep. The data collected through the activity trackers include the animal's temperature, GPS location and daily activity.

Mrs Lay said the idea came about one day when she commented to her husband on how great it would be if sheep could just walk up and bleat their troubles.

“Then I found a solution, a sheep ‘fit bit’ style activity tracker that will collect data I can view on my mobile phone. The technology has the ability to detect any unusual statistics so I can locate the sheep and attend to its needs,” she said.

“Issues such as broken fences or open gates will no longer cause so much trouble – an errant sheep or escaped flock can be located through GPS and they can be rounded up before they go missing or crops are destroyed.”

Mrs Lay was one of four innovative finalists:

  • Leah Boucher – Kambalda-based information technology service provider
  • Tanya Kitto - Geraldton lupin-grower and value-add business owner, changing the view of lupins as food
  • Juliet Grist - Denmark-based economist, developing community engagement to achieve collective impacts.

As well as the $10,000 bursary, Mrs Lay will be given access to alumni networks and professional development opportunities, including Curtin University’s Ignition program.

She will also be a candidate for the national 2019 Rural Women’s Award in October.