Fourth year Agricultural Science student, Hannah Cummins, is working with industry to investigate the use of growth regulators on Tasmanian industrial hemp. She believes her work will help solve serious challenges facing some growers.
I really wanted my honours project to be an industry relevant project and help bridge that gap between the growers at the grass roots of production and the continued advances in science and technology
Industrial help can grow very tall, which results in a lot of waste and damage to machinery. Hannah believes that, if the plant can be shortened, there will be less biproduct left afterwards.
Through the relationships gained during work experience, Hannah was able to partner with industry to get her Honours project off the ground.
“Working with TP Jones during my degree has been really great,” says Hanna. “Their agronomy team taught me heaps, from writing paddock notes to moisture testing and tissue testing potatoes and industrial hemp. They helped me out a lot with my Honours and supported the project, but also provided lots of advice and ideas.”
TP Jones have been a long supporter of Hannah, so when given the chance to contribute to her Honours project, they quickly offered up their support.
Branch Manager David Radeski says: “We’ve had Hannah work for a couple of summer breaks with us. So, when she was choosing her Honours project, we offered up our support and jumped on board.”
David says it’s been great having Hannah involved in a project with such great benefits for the industry.
“All of our current growers who grow industrial hemp as part of their cropping business will benefit from the research. We’ve been watching the progress and look forward to seeing the final results.”
Throughout her degree, Hannah says she was encouraged by her teachers to seek out work experience that would provide connections with industry and prepare her for a career in agriculture.
If you’re keen, there’s no shortage of people that will take you on for work experience. I worked as a research assistance on poppy research trials across the state for my first uni summer break. In my second year, I did an agribusiness placement as my elective at TP Jones, which led to them offering me some casual work over the summer.
The Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree, taught by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) at the University of Tasmania, has a strong focus on building career skills through hands-on experiences and direct industry engagement.
Hannah’s project supervisor at TIA, Sue Hinton, says that creating industry relationships whilst studying is important for student development.
“It’s really valuable for a student to gain those experiences and relationships with industry while they are still a student. Hannah has done a really good job of engaging with industry and her ability to communicate with people has served her well. She’s off to a very good start.”
Through scholarships, Hannah was able to relocate to Hobart to study. She’s also been able to travel back and forth to her hometown of Hagley without financial pressure.
“I’ve been really lucky,” she says. “I’m so grateful for the support scholarships provide.”
Hannah received the Blundstone Scholarship for her first three years of study. This year, she received the Don Gaffney Scholarship for her fourth-year Honours.
Hannah wants to focus on agronomy and work as a consultant in the future, whilst also continuing her family’s farm as the fourth generation.
“I’d really like to work in some sort of consultancy role out in the field working with farmers. Farmers do a fantastic job so we can learn from them as well.”
Hannah's Honours project is supported by TP Jones (Nutrien Ag Solutions), Tasmanian Industrial Hemp Association, Southern Farming Systems, and the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. Midlands Seed also contributed to the project.
Hannah was the 2020 equal state winner of the Ag Institute Australia Student Award.
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