Location Western Australia
What part(s) of the industry do you work in? Agriculture consulting, mainly in viticulture and horticulture.
Job title Viticulture and Horticulture Consultant
What does your company/ business do? We work with growers of many crops to ensure quality production in a sustainable manner. We do pest and disease management programs, soil testing with fertiliser and soil amendment advice, management advice, general assistance with management programs.
Describe your job on the average day Walking up and down many rows of various crops, having a close look for any issues. Lots of talking to growers, both getting information out of them and giving guidance. I get to spend a lot of time in a very beautiful part of Australia, the Southwest of WA.
How did you get involved with agriculture? I grew up on a broadacre farm in the Great Southern, but became quite interested in wine during a short stint in retail liquor post high school.
Education Studied viticulture at Charles Sturt University
If you studied/ trained in agriculture, why did you choose that degree/ certificate? The degree there was available completely externally, allowing me to work full time and study.
What are/were you plans after school/TAFE/university? After school I really wasn’t sure and sort of fell into vineyard work. This is where I decided to study viticulture.
Starting as a vineyard hand, over many years I have held various positions up to that of Group Viticulturist with one of WA’s larger producers. I have also managed a stint with a large ag input reseller in South Australia as an Agronomist, and currently contract to another one. Every now and then you can see me wandering the countryside in a Man Salmon coloured shirt.
What are your interests? I have a strong interest in sustainable agriculture. I like to work with growers who see their soil as more than just a medium for growing things in/on, but as a living thing that needs to be nurtured to get the best out of their crops.
What is your favourite thing about the industry? Agriculture HAS to be, by a country mile, the friendliest industry to work in. And it doesn’t matter how bad the season is, most people are looking forward and for ways to make the next year better.
Best experience in agriculture? Being involved in the wine industry, there really is nothing better than knowing that you have played a part in getting that final drop into a bottle.
Worst experience in agriculture? Some tough times, watching crops fail and knowing there is little you can do about it.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges of the agricultural industry in the future? Feeding a quickly growing world population whilst the costs of input seem to continue to rise.
Why do you think less people are becoming involved in agriculture? Unfortunately, with improved transport, more and more of our products are being imported. With many countries able to produce food at much lower costs, our ag sector gets squeezed. It makes it difficult for ag enterprises to compete wage wise.
We are also seeing generations grow up with significantly more technology and being used to the lifestyles a city has to offer.
What advice do you have for people thinking about getting into agriculture?
It is a fantastic industry. It needs hard working, dedicated smart people to go forward. Be part of it! The world will always need to eat!
How important do you think an agricultural background is to become involved in the industry? It is not important at all. A willingness to have a go is all you need.
What do you think is the most common misconception about agriculture? Non organically grown foods are not full of nasty chemicals! Although, maybe some of the cheap imports are. Oh, and chickens are not pumped full of hormones to make them grow big. That is in fact illegal to do!