What's your job about?
Elders has been a leading agribusiness in rural Australia since 1839 with a focus on helping people find success with their agricultural business. Elders is involved with all aspects of a farming or rural business though: Livestock, Agronomy and Rural Farm Supplies, Insurance, Banking and Real Estate. The area that I am a part of is Agronomy and Rural Farm Supplies.
My role with Elders is as an Agronomist, I am out in the field most days, visiting and helping farmers with queries about their crops and pastures. I advise farmers what to spray and when, take soil samples and make fertiliser recommendations best suited to the farmers paddock and crop and I also help to bring new information and products to my clients. In my role I am also able to take part in trials and research, as well as create demonstrations for farmer days eg I currently have a fertiliser demo in a farmers pasture, the aim of this is to which fertilisers the pasture responds to best and pass on any interesting points to farmers within the area.
For people who have never heard of an agronomist I refer to myself as a plant & dirt doctor, I look at farmers crops and soils to see if I can find out what/ if there is anything wrong and then advise on how best to improve them.
What's your background?
I grew up on my family farm, “Forest Grove” in Central West NSW, 30kms South West of a small town called Nevertire.
Growing up on a farm helped shaped the individual I am today, it allowed me to develop skills which have helped me throughout my everyday life, from when I was 5 up till now at 25.
I attended boarding school from a young age and whilst there began to pursue my interest in agriculture, through school subjects and showing cattle.
At university I studied Agriculture full time, I took a broad range of agriculture related units at uni that ranged from agronomy to animal health, feed lotting to soil, business and marketing to genetics. I did this to ensure I had diverse knowledge about the agricultural industry for when I left uni and began to look for a job. Whilst at uni I also took up any opportunity to learn something new, I have been on live export courses, participated in meat and grains judging teams, won scholarships that have taken me all over Australia to experience the Ag industry.
In 2015 was when I first started to work for Elders and also when I applied for the NSW RAS Rural Achievers Program, and that year I was named one of the top 8 in NSW. That 11 day experience I won was an extremely important stage in my life. I was able to undertake professional and personal development programs, meet with politicians and members of the RAS Council, as well as address a few hundred people during a speech given on agriculture.
How did you get to your current job position and for how long have you being doing it already?
I had finished university and was working as a casual seed cleaner for a company near home, a friend sent me an ad he found on Twitter for agricultural graduates to apply for a graduate agronomy program through Elders. I applied that afternoon, was interviewed in January 2015 and started with Elders on my birthday in March 2015. The graduate agronomy program is a 2 year program where you are placed in Elders branches all over Australia and learn from some of the best agronomists in the business. The first year is split in 2, 6 months in a horticultural branch and 6 months in a broad acre branch. You then go on to choose which area you would like to do you last year in, I chose broad acre cropping. For the majority of the 2 year program I was based in South East QLD. I finished the Graduate program in March this year, and was offered an Agronomy position with Elders Ballarat, but helping service the Ararat and Mortlake Branch’s, based in the Western Districts of Victoria.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, you don’t have to have grown up on a farm to become an agronomist. I have friends who are agronomists who lived the majority of their lives in a city or town. However you need to have studied a B. Agriculture or higher at Uni.
Let us know which kind of characteristics or other skills one should have when it comes to your job!
Good people and communication skills, can work in a team or on their own, be happy to travel long distances, enjoy the outdoors, handle pressure well, computer and tech savvy, never stop learning and just have an all-round happy personality.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I love being able to help farmers, being outdoors and that there is always something new to learn. I enjoy speaking with the clients the most. The appreciation a farmer shows you when you have helped them is one of the best indictors that you are doing a good job.
What are the limitations of your job?
This job does have a fare bit of responsibility, you are dealing with a farmer’s crop, which can be their only income for that year. Which is why it is always important to ask for help if you don’t know and if you don’t know, say that! And let the grower know you will get in touch with someone who does and either bring a second opinion back with you or you will call the farmer with the advice given from the person who you are calling. In the area I am in you don’t have to work on weekends, however because farmers work no matter the day, you will sometimes receive phone calls on weekend with questions. Yes the job can be physically demanding as you are walking through crops all day, and maybe delivering drums or bags of chemical etc. There can be limitations to every job, but it’s how you handle them that will set you apart. Ask for help if you need it and never stop learning!
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
(You didn’t ask for a 4th piece of advice but this is an important one) NEVER STOP LEARNING. Even when you leave school or uni, never think you don’t need to learn anymore!