Students run on-farm trial

FARMING FUTURE: Toowoomba Grammar School student David Armstrong.
FARMING FUTURE: Toowoomba Grammar School student David Armstrong. USQ Photography

HOW many Year 12 students can say they're running their own farming field trial under the tutelage of Australia's leading agricultural researchers?

A group of 31 Toowoomba Grammar School students have been given control of an agriculture plot at the University of Southern Queensland to plant crops, monitor and assess a variety of factors during the next few months.

Professor Glen Coleman, Executive Dean of USQ's Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences, said the project allowed the university to share its expertise with future leaders of the farming industry.

"These students are studying agricultural science at Toowoomba Grammar and with the end of their secondary schooling drawing near, they are weighing up their future options,” Professor Coleman said.

"It's a great opportunity for them to use our facilities and be mentored by USQ staff such as precision agriculture expert Dr Troy Jensen (National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture) and plant agricultural scientist Dr Keith Pembleton (School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences).”

So far, the students have selected their oat varieties, donated by Pacific Seeds, and are brainstorming what factors to monitor throughout the trial, including the impact of different fertiliser use, irrigation, spacing, as well as yield.

Professor Coleman said this planning stage was already instilling the students with valuable science and engineering skills.

"Problem solving, decision making and the communication and collaboration involved in working in a group - these are fundamental industry skills,” he said.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what these students come up with.

"I hope it encourages them to become skilled professionals in this global field with an opportunity to impact the future of agricultural practices.”

USQ offers a variety of degrees in the area of agricultural science. Learn more at

Topics:  agricultural science future of farming next generation toowoomba grammar school usq