A day in the life of an agronomist

CQUniversity alumnus Claire-Marie Pepper

Claire-Marie Pepper graduated from CQUniversity with a Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Security and is now a Graduate Agronomist with Northern Agriservices Ltd in Kingaroy, Queensland. Claire-Marie says her favourite part of the role is the variety.

“Even when you plan your days and weeks, something will always come up and change everything (this is not always a bad thing).”

The best bit about my job is

Is the diversity each and every day brings, one day I may be working in the office, inputting data from soil tests conducted the other day and/or serving customers in the shop. To the next day I might be out in the field all day checking crops for pests and diseases at all growth stages. You can never know what your day might bring, even when you plan your days and weeks, something will always come up and change everything (this is not always a bad thing).

The first thing I do when I get to work is…

As an agronomist (in training) every day is different, unless it is a particular growing season or working on a project, like I am at the moment. Currently, I am working on a black soil project where each day we try to focus our day around conducting the required soil tests on particular black soil properties, the tests are then sent away to a laboratory for analysis. Otherwise during the growing season, we will do the rounds of our clients properties checking crops for any pests, diseases and general plant health, from there we will advise the grower if any action is required, ie. inputs like chemicals.

The three activities I’m most likely to do in a day are…

  1. Recommending chemicals to growers to control pests, diseases and/or weeds and at what rates
  2. Working outdoors conducting various tasks from bug checking, soil testing to hosting or participating in field days.
  3. Lots of travel! Which I love, driving around the countryside to the next property, grower and crops. It is a great way to see the region, especially if you are new to the area like me!

Something people might not realise I do is…

Despite my role as an Agronomist I also work in the shop as well, where we sell majority of your agricultural needs from fertilisers, chemicals to pumps. Therefore, a range of knowledge is needed (and learnt) within in the role.

Something I didn’t think I would doing as an agronomist is…

Coming into an agronomy role within the agricultural industry I didn’t really have an expectation or have an idea of what was involved in the position. All I knew was that it is an avenue to work first hand with primary producers and create change within their area.

Something I did think I’d be doing is…

Something I knew I would be doing in the role is building relationships with farmers, talking to them and working with them to assist in their production. Working alongside them to assist producing the best possible crops as well as learning from their extensive knowledge and experiences.

Something students who are considering being an agronomist need to think about is…

Being agronomist each day can vary, therefore, you never 100% know what your day is going to bring. Some days can be super busy and very tiring other days can be very slow and sometimes boring. Those slow types of days you should make the most of them by utilising the office time to do research about crops in the area, chemicals used and become familiar with the products/services your company offer, the ones you will work with. Overall, if you love working outdoors, having a diverse work tasks and a passion for agriculture/environment then consider a agronomy role, it will be a very rewarding career.

Something I wish I knew about being an agronomist/working in agriculture is…

In general, when starting out your first career position, it is going to be slow, you are still learning and understanding the industry you are working in, therefore, when I first started I felt that I wasn’t utilising by previous knowledge and creating change, but that takes time and once you do start to become familiar with the business and prioritises all the hard work pays off.

This blog is part of a ‘day in the life’ series promoting what roles really involve. If you’ve graduated from a CQUni course and would like to be part of this blog series please contact alumni-enquiries@cqu.edu.au.

Colleen Dunne (https://cqunilife.com)

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