Industry cultivates career paths for young agronomists
Author: Sarah Jeffrey | Date: 22 Apr 2015
The Australian grain industry is more than just a passion for Emily Lamberton; it is a promising career path.
She typifies agriculture’s `new generation’ with a firm commitment to forging a productive and profitable future for growers through meaningful research and development and her drive is being embraced by industry.
A Sydney University agricultural science graduate, Emily spent last year conducting research into windrow burning’s impact on fallow soil moisture in central western NSW as part of a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded Undergraduate Honours Scholarship.
Her thesis research was undertaken in conjunction with the Grain Orana Alliance (GOA) – a GRDC-funded grower solutions group that aims to provide practical answers to current and emerging issues challenging grain producers in the central west and western plains regions of NSW.
The proactive collaboration between GOA and GRDC to provide opportunities for young researchers is a key building block for expanding skills capacity and succession management within the research community.
At the same time, it is helping graduates like Emily grow professionally and personally under the guidance of experienced consultants such as GOA chief executive officer Maurie Street.
Although Emily hails from Sydney, she has family connections to farming which sparked her interest in studying agricultural science.
“Having grown up in Sydney, my only opportunity to experience faming had been through my uncle so I was missing the background knowledge that many of the other students had. But working with the likes of GOA helped to change that,” Emily said.
“While I had an idea that agronomy was the area I wanted to work in, I had never seen an agronomist in action. Work experience confirmed for me that agronomy was the path I wanted to take – I particularly love the interaction and the problem solving aspects.
“Working with experienced professionals like Maurie has given me so many opportunities. Without their contacts I would not have had the means to set up trials on such a range of farms or work directly with farmers.
“By taking on a research project that was set up by an agronomist I was able to see what kind of research the industry was calling out for and conduct trials that were directly useful to the farmers.”
The one year research project conducted by Emily and GOA focussed on fallow moisture efficiencies under conventional practices and windrow burnt treatments in average yielding seasons.
With herbicide resistance escalating rapidly across NSW’s central west, an increasing number of growers are undertaking windrow burning to destroy weed seeds following harvest and help drive down the weed seedbank.
This follows the widespread adoption of the practice in Western Australia as a means of controlling weeds using non-herbicide tactics and extending the life of existing chemistries.
“The development of herbicide resistance mitigation strategies and management is an area of research that particularly interests me,” Emily said.
“Herbicide resistance is set to become an exponentially increasing problem for Australian farmers, especially on the east coast, but I’m confident that through science industry can largely overcome this emerging obstacle to production.
“Herbicide resistance management is an issue where I can utilise skills that I’ve developed during university such as conducting research trials and is related to subjects that I found most interesting including general agronomy, crop biology and genetics.”
Caption: GRDC-funded Undergraduate Honours Scholarship student with the University of Sydney, Emily Lamberton (right) with fellow GRDC Undergraduate Honours Scholarship student Ellie Readford.
Maurie Street, Chief Executive Officer, Grain Orana Alliance
0400 066 201
Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152 859
GRDC Project Code UHS10670