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Growing the future of Tasmania’s raspberries and avocados

As Kirsty Dickenson reflects on her recent studies, it becomes soon apparent her decision to undertake the Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness (Horticultural Business) in 2020 was a good one.

Offered through the University of Tasmania’s Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and developed in partnership with some of the world’s leading names in horticulture, including New Zealand’s Lincoln University, the Wageningen Research Academy in the Netherlands, and Hort Innovation, the course equips current and future farm managers, owners and employers with the agribusiness skills and capabilities required to run profitable and sustainable farm businesses.

A horticulturalist with Costa, Kirsty works in the berry category with a focus on raspberries and an avocado trial in Tasmania’s north-west.

And it’s a role that is so broad and diverse, that the Bachelor of Agriculture graduate said she would find it hard to define an average day.

I’m involved in everything from making decisions around planting and crop manipulations, identifying pest and disease concerns, and creating and assessing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies, canopy management and all things crop management from pre-planting to ensuring the best fruit possible for our harvest team.

“I’m actively involved in our research activities and have begun to move into some of the new development of planning and capital expenditure proposals associated with them.”

With so much of Costa business in her remit, Kirsty recognised the Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness, with a specialisation in Horticultural Business, could be a wise next step in her career development.

“I wanted to expand my skillset and be ready to be involved in business management in my future,” Kirsty said. “And to increase my understanding of the many elements of running a business, particularly to be more aware of the business I work in, the context it operates in and what it takes to be a successful business.”

Kirsty said the course helped her understand risk and decision making; the process of identifying where Costa fits in the market; identifying new opportunities and attaining skills in understanding the feasibility of potential opportunities; as well as building the skills required to create a business plan - for either a new business or a new opportunity within an existing business.

She also discovered surprising characteristics of her own.

“Learning about my attitude to risk was interesting and eye opening,” Kirsty said.

As a traveller and someone who enjoys getting out of my comfort zone and learning new things, I intrinsically thought I would have a higher tolerance for risk, however the resources offered within the class indicated I am risk averse.

“I was surprised at first. However, when I really thought about it, it made sense.

“Understanding my attitude to risk and being able to identify the level of risk of other decision makers in the business I work in, allows me to make conscious decisions that are suitable for the business and may be slightly riskier than what perhaps I may have been comfortable with in the past.”

With the course’s blend of innovation, skill building, fun, and flexibility, Kirsty said she learned a lot and believes her studies have helped her grow in her current role and will assist her as she moves forward in her career.

“I enjoyed undertaking the diploma and the flexibility of the course,” Kirsty said.

“Although there is a set structure the facilitators are really understanding of the nature of balancing study with busy work periods. I was able to work at my own pace, which really helped me to keep a balanced life.”

“Although there is a set structure the facilitators are really understanding of the nature of balancing study with busy work periods. I was able to work at my own pace, which really helped me to keep a balanced life.”

The Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness (Horticultural Business) will provide current and future horticultural managers around the country the knowledge and skills to maximise farm performance and lead successful teams.

The units are typically delivered over an 18-month period with individual flexible study plans allowing participants to study during periods of seasonal workload and around personal circumstances.

For further information and details on how to apply visit:  Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness (Horticultural Business) | Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (