Charles Sturt University ag science students show off their skills at US crops competition
Three agricultural science students from Charles Sturt University (CSU) were put through their paces when they competed in the soils and crops section of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) competition in Norfolk, Nebraska this month.
With more than 110 competitors from 17 colleges across America, Nick Grant, Tom Jeffery and Danyon Williams were the only Australians to be put to the test and were required to identify 45 species of plants and 15 samples of seed grain, and to complete an analysis of four separate soil pits.
While the Aussies weren’t able to take out a place in the competition they appreciated the international experience. They were particularly grateful to the Kansas State and Iowa University teams who helped them prepare for plant varieties they had never seen before, together with a completely new system of grading soils.
They are now looking forward to mentoring the next CSU team in GrainGrowers’ upcoming Australian Universities Crops Competition in Temora from 25-27 September.
Overall, Iowa State University took out the top honour in the NACTA competition, winning the overall 4 year university category and the crops competition category, with Kansas State University trailing behind by only a few points.
Both universities will send teams to compete at GrainGrowers’ Australian Universities Crops Competition this year.
“Having the American universities compete steps the competition up a notch,” said Dr Michael Southan, GrainGrowers CEO and facilitator of the AUCC.
“We expect our Australian university teams will work hard to retain the top honours on home soil.”
Last year Charles Sturt University took the top prize from Sydney University, La Trobe University (Vic), University of Melbourne and Curtin University (WA).
Before returning home this week, the students will fly to St Louis to visit the home of major agricultural chemicals company, Monsanto.
From St Louis the students will travel to Washington DC where they will meet with Agriculture and Trade counsellors at the Australian Embassy. They will also have meetings at the United States Department of Agriculture, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Wheat Growers and the US Wheat Associates.
The Australian Universities Crops Competition (AUCC) is an annual initiative of national grain farmers' representative body, GrainGrowers. The competition puts tertiary agricultural science and agribusiness students through their paces in a mixture of theory and hands-on tests covering agronomics and farm business management. This year marks a decade of successful competition.
The AUCC is part of GrainGrowers' commitment to fostering skills development and leadership capability amongst Australian grain growers.
Past participants of the Australian Universities Crops Competition have gone on to successful careers in the Australian grains industry as agribusiness professionals, researchers, farmers, farm advisors, agronomists and grain traders.