In celebration of our Australian Cotton collection we caught up with young agronomist (The scientific study of soil management and crop production), Emma. An on-farm consultant to farmers who supports with decision making throughout the season. Based in Griffith, Emma is a great talent and the current Young Farming Champion.
You’re a young Agronomist and a fantastic role model for young women – how did you come to choose this career path?
I grew up on a sheep station and farm in rural South Australia so I always wanted a career in agriculture. Originally I thought I’d end up working in animal nutrition, but at Uni I found a love for plants, so I changed direction to agronomy. I found plants so interesting, I love working outside and helping people so it was the perfect fit.
You grew up on a sheep station, and you’re now passionate about a career in cotton – what do you love most about the switch and being part of the Cotton family?
Australia is one of the best cotton growing countries in the world! We are so ahead of the curve in terms of the sustainability, quality and quantity of cotton that we produce and the technology that we use to do it. It is such an inclusive and vibrant industry where growers, suppliers and agronomists work together to produce amazing results and keep pushing the industry to be the best!
What might a regular work day look like for you? (we image it’s quite diverse!)
Cotton is a summer crop so it is quite hot during the growing season. That’s why my day typically starts at 5am! I will drive to my first farm and check the crop for insects, weeds and disease using some handy technology and my own experience. I will then catch up with the farmer (sometimes over a cuppa if I’m lucky) and we will go through what I have seen, discuss irrigation timing and whatever else needs to be done on the farm at that time. I will do 2-4 farms in a day, varying in sizes and with different issues so every day is different, but it can range from checking crops and water use efficiency, crop rotation and farm development plans, and general farm stuff.
You’re a current Young Farming Champion – tell us a bit more about what that involves?
This is a program that brings together students from metropolitan and regional centres with young people that work in the agricultural industry. The aim is to help bridge the divide around where our food and fibre comes from and the wonderful people and careers that exist in agriculture. I’m lucky to be supported by Cotton Australia, because I learn a lot and am able to pass on what I know as well.
There’s a fantastic community growing, of women in agriculture. Why is that so important?
Women add new skills and perspectives to the cotton industry that will allow us to continue to push the limits of what is possible, keep at the forefront of technology and innovation and be a progressive and sustainable industry. There are so many opportunities in agriculture so it is important that we have a diverse range of people who work in it. The Australian cotton industry welcomes women and there are lots of us on farms, working in research, marketing the crop to our customers and in industry organisations too.
When you’re not working, where can we find you? (what do you like to do outside of work?)
In my spare time I can be found running around the netball court, going fishing and camping or just hanging out with my dog Millie! I live on a farm so there is always something to do.