Three agricultural science students from Charles Sturt University are off to the United States to compete in the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) crops competition.
Nick Grant, Tom Jeffery and Danyon Williams won the opportunity to take part when they took out first, second and third places respectively in the individual category of GrainGrowers’ Australian Universities Crop Competition in Temora in 2017.
In a clean sweep, the team trophy also went to Charles Sturt University in 2017, snatching the prize from competing teams from University of Sydney, La Trobe University (Vic), University of Melbourne and Curtin University (WA).
The NACTA competition attracts teams from colleges all over the United States. While Nick, Danyon and Tom will be competing as individuals, their results are expected to be exceptional.
Nick Grant, from a grains farm in Temora, is particularly looking forward to the trip as it is the first time he has been overseas.
Prior to the start of the competition, Nick, Danyon and Tom will be escorted by GrainGrowers Chairman John Eastburn and Partnerships and Events Manager Kaitlin Commins on a visit to the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa State University and the Kansas State University, in the heart of the American grain belt.
The competition itself will be held at the Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska.
The students will participate in a four hour soils exam and a plant and seed identification of more than 140 species of crops and weeds.
The winners will be announced at a dinner to be held at the DeVent Center this Saturday 21 April 2018. GrainGrowers will relay the students’ results from the function. Australian ag science students, Brett Bushell and Nellie Evans, both from the University of Sydney, did well, achieving mid-range results of 26 and 34 in a field of 52.
Interspersed with the exam periods, the students will visit the American office of the Louis Dreyfus Company, a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods.
Before returning home, 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.
Meanwhile, preparations are under way for the 2018 Australian Universities Crops Competition to be held 25-27 September 2018 at Farmlink Research Station, Temora. Universities and agricultural colleges interested in staking a team for the event should contact for more details.
The Australian Universities Crops Competition 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.
GrainGrowers CEO Dr Michael Southan said the competition would reach a major milestone this year of running successfully for a decade. It is the only such competition in the Australian grains industry.
The Australian Universities Crops Competition 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.