Wins flow for Charles Sturt University in crop judging | Photos, Video

CROP judging sets students who are aiming for a career in the rural sector with realistic commercial situations. 

The participants were tested on seed identification, pulse diseases to working out the gross margin of a hypothetical farming scenario. 

The diverse skills needed during the Australian Universities Crops Competition were tested out at Temora and Old Junee. 

Charles Sturt University was among five universities competing in the annual event hosted by GrainGrowers. 

Team mentor, CSU lecturer in crop science Dr Sergio Moroni said over three days the students competed in agronomic and assessment tasks putting the knowledge they had learned in the classroom into practice in the field.

“The team has been busy preparing for the event, training in the field and the laboratory," he said. 

CSU was represented by Bachelor of Agricultural Science students Andrew Lord, Thomas Jeffery, Fraser Hamilton, Nicholas Grant, Danyon Williams,  Angus Knight and Elliot Lade.

The team from CSU's School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences was supported by the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.

CSU student Nick Grant took out first place in the individual category while the team trophy went to the university’s team entry. 

This year's competition held at the Farmlink Research Station was greeted with oustanding weather at the start of the week before cooling off with chilly winds.

As well as the winning CSU  (NSW) team, four teams from across Australia also competed, from Sydney University (NSW), La Trobe University (VIC), Melbourne University (VIC) and Curtin University (WA).

GrainGrowers chief executive Michael Southan said the competition was always a valuable learning opportunity for the university students.

“Crops competition participants are our farm advisers and agronomists of the future," Dr Southan said. 

“In their future roles they will need to apply their skills across numerous properties and regions - wherever their careers may take them.”

Dr Southan said the competition was about students being able to demonstrate their agronomic expertise but also gave them the opportunity to network with industry representatives.

“This year there was an increased focus on connecting students with grains industry representatives including research, government and agribusiness professionals in the interests of developing career pathways and opportunities," Dr Southan said.

"A networking lunch and local tour helped to introduce students to potential employers and to broaden their knowledge about broadacre crops."

The individual winner, Nick Grant is from Temora.

“I entered the competition to learn as much as I could and I walked away today knowing that I've learnt a lot. Winning is a huge bonus,” he said. 

Mr Grant is in his third year of study at CSU. After completing his studies he aims to pursue a career in agronomy or to return to the Temora family farm.

Together with individual runners-up, Danyon Williams and Tom Jeffery also from CSU, now have the opportunity to take part in the universities crops competition in the United States.

Dr Southan said the competition, now in its ninth year, continues to go from strength to strength.

“It is fantastic that Australia’s major agricultural universities continue to fund and support students to compete. We are also grateful to the students who fund their own travel expenses.”