Three Minute Squiz With… Rod Campbell

Rod Campbell is one of our Western Australian Squizers. Rod works in agribusiness where, as the co-founder of Swan Systems, he helps everyone from farmers to golf course owners and public park administrators better manage their water use. Given the scale of the drought we’re seeing in Australia, we reckon this is worth a shout out.

How and where do you Squiz?
Early morning with a cup of tea and a refreshed perspective on the world (mostly).

Without getting too technical, what exactly does Swan Systems do?
It is about being smarter and more accountable with water use. Every day, all over Australia, enormous amounts of water are wasted through inefficient watering practices on everything from your local golf links to council parks and farms. We’ve created a system that better monitors existing nutrient and moisture levels in soils and then recommends the amount of watering required. We know from studies we have done that people over-water by up to 30%. They stick on the sprinklers and set and forget.

Tell us about your other product, Weatherwise – which sounds like it could be useful for those of us who are slightly obsessed with having the perfect lawn?
While our main focus is on the larger water users in the agricultural and public space sectors, the same principles apply to residential water use. So, we created a free email service called Weatherwise Watering that sends out a daily weather forecast with details of, among other things, location-specific rain forecasts and estimated plant moisture loss.

But in your spare time, you’re something of a music entrepreneur?
I am a director on the not for profit organisation Tura New Music that exists to promote experimental “art” music. A recent example is a group of Australia’s leading female percussionists who performed a musical score with only kitchen utensils. We recently produced a contemporary opera called Speechless performed at the Perth International Festival and we are hoping it will be included in Tasmania’s Dark MoFo program. In November, we’re touring the Kimberley Echoes up and down the east coast, including performances at the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne’s Recital Hall and Bermagui’s Four Winds venue.

We don’t hear nearly enough about the great state of Western Australia and its capital, Perth. What do you love about the west?
For me it is the sheer scale of a state that covers over 1,800 kms of coast line from giant Karri Tree forests in the south, coral waters in the mid-west and Boab trees and monsoonal rains in the far north. The Triffids summed it up in their album ‘Born Sandy Devotional’: WA is a lot about sand and water and the classic song ‘Wide Open Road’ epitomises the vastness of the geography.

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with.
Neil Young for tips on guitar playing and a post dinner performance, Tetsuya for cooking advice, Matthew Pavlich to explain why the Freo Dockers were so inept in their only grand final appearance thus far and Kay (my other half) to share the experience.

Your favourite writer and/or book?
Tim Winton and the way he captures the WA essence of a connection with land, water and wind. I love the line in his novel, Breath* “breathing, it is something you rarely think of until it is the only thing you can think about”.

The best piece of advice you’ve received?
Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.

What would you say is the greatest quality in a friend?
Timelessness of connection. Whether you caught up last week or maybe a few years ago you have a level of communication and empathy that is undiminished.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
The number of likes on any social media post.

What would you say is currently the most overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
Maybe a vested interest subject but the increasing levels of nitrates and phosphates that are building in our aquifers through poor irrigation practises and that are starting to show in adverse health outcomes.

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