Local R&D Opportunity for Curtin Agribusiness Student
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Written by Miles Ellery
I have been lucky enough to have Liebe Group take me on-board during the mid-year university break. It gave me a great opportunity to understand the workings of a research and development (R&D) program that focuses on investigating new systems that the local growers are interested in, through experimental trials.
With every person that walked through the doors, Liebe Group member or otherwise, it was clear to see that there was a communal bond between the staff and community. The not-for-profit nature of this operation, in combination with the friendly and engaged team members, created the notion that this group was here to serve in the best interests of the people. Having never been involved with such an organisation before, there was a considerable difference in mindset in comparison to other commercial agricultural enterprises.
The good rapport of Liebe Group persisted above the community level, as we experienced when we partook in a field walk with the Elder’s team and a number of local growers, who were explaining and collaborating their own trials and tribulations for the betterment of each other. Their varying opinions – and friendly banter – on species, herbicide applications and timings, and seasonal crop outlooks, was very interesting to be surrounded by. As well as that, seeing farm-scale operations and trial sites and assisting with the ongoing research projects validated the time spent in university laboratory sessions, with Judy’s passion for agricultural R&D impressive to behold.
Particularly, heading out to some growers’ farms – including Liebe Group president Blayn Carlshausen – to set up traps for diamondback moths, fall armyworm, and budworm, gave me an appreciation for both the scale of operations in and around Dalwallinu, and the critical importance of R&D work in optimising the growing environment. Without such trials, farmers would have difficulty in knowing the true patterns of new and existing pests, and how aggressively to treat for them. In obtaining these results, the efficiency and power in mitigating such pests is much improved.
As well as that, assisting in the office with updating and arranging the ‘Past Projects’ content within the Liebe Group website was helpful in understanding how the organisation has helped growers in the past. Initiatives investigating the testing and ameliorating subsoil constraints, improving stubble retention, trialing new pasture species, among other experiments, was powerful in building the association between scientific work and tangible economic and environmental benefits on-farm. Furthermore, their community work, including engaging local farming women in building their agricultural acumen and confidence, and creating networks to connect farmers for improved peer-to-peer communication highlights their passion for serving the local residents.
With many thanks to the team who supported me throughout the week at Liebe Group (Katrina, Judy, and Danielle), I would certainly recommend any aspiring agricultural studies students to take the opportunity when it presents. I look forward to finishing my Bachelor of Agribusiness degree at Curtin University so I can look for a similar opportunity. As a city kid, being able to engage with growers and agribusinesses where they are truly at work has grown my passion, and I am excited to play a part in arguably Australia’s – if not the world’s – most important industry.