United States of Agronomy

2 February 2017

Australian Universities Crops Competition winners to compete in US competion

Nellie Evans and Brett Bushell celebrating their win at the Australian Universities Crops Competition
Nellie Evans and Brett Bushell celebrating their win at the Australian Universities Crops Competition

Winners of the individual first and second places at the 2016 Australian Universities Crops Competition have accepted the challenge to compete in a similar competition in the USA.

Science in Agriculture students and budding agronomists, Nellie Evans and Brett Bushell have been invited to participate in the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Crops Contest in Kansas from 6 to 8 April this year.

"I'm over the moon to be invited to attend this competition. It's pretty amazing to be representing Australia and the University of Sydney in something I love doing. I'm looking forward to the challenge of applying the knowledge I've developed of Australian crops and agronomic practices to the American examples we will have presented to us as part of the contest.

I'm very keen to get started studying and preparing myself for some of the components of the competition. I'm definitely going to need to brush up on things like common plant diseases and weeds that are found in the region, soil types and climatic influences," said NACTA Crops Contest competitor, Nellie Evans.

The contest is divided into four areas: An agronomic quiz; mathematics practical; laboratory practical; and plant and seed identification.

"The quiz consists of 75 questions based on the production of major US grain and forage crops. The mathematics section is all about agronomic calculations like irrigation rates of application, estimating yield, or forage quality. The lab component has 75 different stations and competitors will have to identify common signs of nutrient deficiencies in different plants and determine soil properties to name a few. Finally, the last task includes identifying plants at different stages of maturity.

It will be a really interesting opportunity to compete against the locals in the US competition and learn about some of the issues that crops in Kansas face," said Science in Agriculture student and contest competitor, Brett Bushell.

The competition is part of a greater conference in which participants from all over the US compete in agricultural contests, such as ag communications, agribusiness, computer applications, dairy judging, equine management, horticulture, livestock judging, livestock management, meat judging, precision agriculture, soil judging and of course, crops.

Contenders for this competition include teams from Kansas State University, Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the University of Minnesota-Crookston, West Texas A&M University, Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Cal Poly Pomona, Ohio State University, and now, the University of Sydney.

After Nellie completes her studies, she plans to move into a career in broadacre agronomy extension. Brett plans to move into agronomic or mixed enterprise research or consultancy work in the future, so both the American and Australian competitions will provide Nellie and Brett with a good grounding in some of the problem solving tasks they will need to work on in their future careers.

Australian Universities Crops Competition organisers, GrainGrowers are supporting the University of Sydney students, covering flights, accommodation and entry into the competition.

"The US contest will be such a valuable experience and thanks goes to GrainGrowers for their support. We thought the Australian competition was an amazing experience, and now we have a new adventure to look forward to," Nellie said.

"I would encourage other students studying in this area to get involved in the Australian Universities Crops Competition to engage with and learn from industry, other students and university mentors, and seize some great opportunities," Brett said.

The Australian Universities Crops Competition is held each year in spring. For more information about the competition, visit [[ ||]].