No regrets for law student turned agronomist
Edenhope’s Miranda Rose’s dream of studying law had come true, but last-minute qualms as she packed her bags for a prestigious Melbourne university saw the high achiever take an unexpected turn into agriculture.
Today, Ms Rose is six months into Elders’ graduate agronomy program and has no regrets.
“I’d pretty much had tunnel vision about doing law and was accepted into an arts/law degree at Melbourne Uni but, the day before I was supposed to move up there, it didn’t feel right,” Ms Rose said.
“I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t excited, either.”
Although Ms Rose had no background in agriculture, she had always wanted to explore agricultural science, which hadn’t been offered at her school. She called a friend who had recently started studying agriculture at Longerenong College.
“I asked all about it and she was enjoying it, so I went to Longy instead,” Ms Rose said.
“I’ve learned so much more about the agricultural industry as a whole and all the opportunities within it.
“I could still potentially pursue the law degree, with more of an agri-politics or agri-law pathway and do some advocacy for farmers but I’m loving agronomy.”
The two-year Elders graduate agronomy program comprises six-month rotations, offering its young professionals experience across a range of different farming systems and regions. Ms Rose has spent her first six months based in Ballarat, where she works with both broadacre cropping and livestock clients.
She said mentoring by experienced agronomists was one of the most powerful parts of the program.
“I’ve had it reinforced to me several times that you’re here strictly to learn, so that after I’ve finished the program, I can jump into a position as an agronomist and know exactly what I’m doing,” Ms Rose said.
The role takes her into paddocks alongside mentors Chris Walsh and Mick Walsh.
“If I was to spend the day with Chris Walsh, we’d probably focus on a bit more animal health and pasture production,” Ms Rose said.
“We’re out with farmers, helping them plan stock management and grazing management, so we might help farmers allocate the best paddocks to ewes having twins or triplets, for example.
“When I’m with Mick, it is predominantly broadacre, so weed control and cleaning up pastures, discussing seed and, this time of year, we’re going out with a lot of post-emergent herbicides and checking for pests like slugs and mice.”
As part of the graduate agronomy program, Ms Rose is also involved in variety and herbicide matrix trials run by her Elders mentor, Chris Walsh. The highlight of the job, however, was beyond the paddock.
“I love having chats with the grower or the producer and seeing what they’re trying to achieve,” Ms Rose said. “I really love that part of it.”
Next month, Ms Rose will move to Robinvale to start the horticulture phase and said she appreciated the structure of the graduate program.
“It gives you the opportunity to move around, whilst having a stable job and having a taste of different elements of the ag industry,” she said.
Aside from agronomy, Ms Rose had found herself involved in the real estate and merchandising arms of the diverse Elders business.
“These are crucial things to learn, especially if you might eventually become a branch manager or something like that,” she said.
“We also got hosted in head office and saw the different roles people there have, from water trading to social media marketing.
“And there’s not many people that get to meet the CEO of their company when it’s this big, so I really liked that all the grads got to connect with Mark Allison. It’s just a really great program.”
Applications for the Elders Graduate Agronomy Program open on 1 July 2021.