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

Executive Dean of USQ’s Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences Professor Glen Coleman says the project allows 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,” Glen said.

The students have selected their oat varieties, donated by Pacific Seeds, and are currently brainstorming what factors to monitor throughout the trial.

Professor Coleman says it is a great opportunity for students to use USQ’s facilities and be mentored by USQ staff including precision agriculture expert from the National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture Dr Troy Jensen, and plant agricultural scientist from the School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences Dr Keith Pembleton.

Toowoomba Grammar students have a variety of options including studying the impacts of different fertiliser use, irrigation, spacing as well as yield. Professor Coleman says this planning stage is 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 are fundamental industry skills,” he says.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what these students come up with and I hope it encourages them to become skilled professionals in this global field, with an opportunity to impact the future of agricultural practices.”

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