JESSICA Treston grew up on a cane farm next to Farleigh Mill and never thought that, years later, she would be working next door to her childhood home.
Ms Treston is a juice analyst at Farleigh Mill for Mackay Sugar and her role is vital during the crushing season.
Part of Ms Treston's job is to analyse the cane juice that comes in from the mill to calculate the payment for the farmers.
After seeing the job advertised in the paper and with a bit of encouragement from her father, she took on the role.
My results have to be valid and correct because that is how farmers get paid.
But before she could get into the laboratory, she studied certificate three in laboratory skills at TAFE.
She said the course specialised in sugar, which was a great advantage when she came into the lab where she knew 80% of what was expected of her.
"The rest you learn on the job. It is full-on and you are constantly going. We have a schedule where I do juices every hour, fibres every hour and then I do other samples such as the water and molasses levels in the mill."
She said the cane was crushed in mill then made its way to her in the lab.
The crush cane comes through pipes where samples are taken and measured every hour. Once that stage is completed, you have to wait for 20 minutes to settle.
After that, leaf is added to the cane juice where you must leave it to collegiate.
This is how you get the pol, which tells you the sugar content of the juice.
Ms Treston said cane juice was on rotation once an hour.
"My role is to make sure farmers are getting paid the right amount - I am testing the level of sugar in the pool, because that is what the farmers get paid on. My results have to be valid and correct because that is how they get paid."
She said her job was important not only for the growers but for the mill.
Ms Treston said there was a contract agreement between the mill and the canegrowers that all samples were sterile and made within a certain timeframe.
"Our job is vital during the crush and I am pretty sure if there was no one here to do juice testing, they would have to stop the entire mill."
Ms Treston said she liked the smell of the mill and the sugary scent in the lab.
"I have always been around sugar farms. I know how it is grown and pretty much every process of how sugar is grown and developed," she joked.
"I never thought I would work in the sugar industry. Dad always used to say why don't you work in the lab and I always said no, and then I did. I thought it would be a horrible job but I love it."
Ms Treston said there were always two people working in the lab during a shift - a juice analyst and a controller.
And while it was tough to start out, Ms Treston said there were senior members of staff training new staff to help them learn the ropes.
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