Industry scholarships attract young ag graduates

Author: Sarah Jeffrey | Date: 07 Apr 2016

Industry sponsored scholarships are playing a pivotal role in encouraging young agricultural graduates like Ellie Readford to begin etching a career in the Australian grains industry.

While her rural background initially inspired Ms Readford to pursue an agricultural science degree at the University of Sydney, it was winning a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded Undergraduate Honours Scholarship that set her on the grains industry path.

"The GRDC scholarship was very important in showing me what's out there. It expanded my contact base, gave credibility to my research and allowed that research to be more in depth and interesting," Ms Readford said.

It also gives back to the industry, with Ms Readford presenting her thesis, "The effect of crop rotations on the incidence of crown rot in wheat" to the Australian Agronomy Conference in Hobart late last year.

"A major finding of my thesis was that brassica crops are effective in breaking down stubble residues from past crops," she said.

This is important in the control and management of crown rot as this is the source of infection for subsequent crops."

Her thesis research was undertaken at the IA Watson Grains Research Centre - a nationally renowned research facility based at the University of Sydney's Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) at Narrabri which conducts a number of research programs supported by the GRDC.

This includes a major research project focussed on the development of wheat germplasm with improved resistance and tolerance to crown rot.

Ms Readford is putting many of the skills she gained during her studies into practice, working initially for Hart Bros Seeds at Junee and currently as an agronomist for Delta Agribusiness at Coonamble.

"What I really like about agronomy is that you work with farmers and gain an understanding of how and why they use certain practices. Everyone has their own way which makes it interesting," she said.

As for the question of where to next, she is open to opportunity.

There are a lot of opportunities for young people in the grains industry. We’re in an interesting and exciting time as we expand the number of crops we produce domestically and pursue expanded overseas markets,” she said

“The grains industry can offer a great deal and take you all over the world in many different professions depending on what you are interested in.

“I am considering a long term career in grains because even though I’m just at the start, I really enjoy it.

“You meet lots of people and the ongoing capacity for research means we will always be learning new techniques and practices.”

Her advice to others contemplating a career in the grains industry is simple – “consider the opportunities and be ready for an adventure.”

To hear Ms Readford discussing her involvement in the grains industry, view her video on the GRDC YouTube channel by following this link. To learn more about other GRDC-sponsored research scholarship recipients, download the GRDC publication In GRAINS – Investing in Young Scientists by following this link.


Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152 859

GRDC Project Code UHS10670

Region North