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Published: 19 May 2022

University of Tasmania student Lucy Cooper has her focus sharply trained on the changing nature of the world’s climate the important part irrigation will play in that and its social impacts.

Lucy is in her Honours year, after completing a degree in Applied Science: Agriculture and Business through the Tasmanian institute of Agriculture (TIA), and on Friday, May 20, she will present her project “Assessing land use and social change associated with irrigation development” at the Honours seminar.

The project assesses both the land-use change and social change which occurred on-farm and in the region because of the Swan Valley irrigation scheme.

“The Swan Valley irrigation scheme covers a region on the east coast of Tasmania encompassing the townships of Cranbrook through to Swansea,” Lucy explained.

“Land-use change was tracked and assessed over six growing seasons by remote sensing using the Landsat-8 satellite.

“Social change was analysed through interviews with both farmers who have purchased water from the scheme and those who have not as well as with key stakeholders involved with the scheme.”

Lucy hopes her research will provide a methodology that can be applied to other Tasmanian Irrigation schemes as well as interstate irrigation schemes.

“This ensures that assessment of social and land-use changes can be carried out more easily and allows the industry to consistently understand the impacts of irrigation.

“I would like to see my research used as a framework for analysis in other regions around Tasmania and Australia.”

Dr Beth Penrose, Pasture Science Lecturer and TIA’s Honours Year Coordinator said Lucy’s project is a great example of the breadth of projects TIA’s Honours students can do – from remote sensing to social research.

“Our students work with industry partners to produce meaningful and useful outcomes for the Tasmanian and Australian agricultural industries, making excellent networks and learning heaps of skills along the way,” Dr Penrose said.

“Lucy has also landed a fabulous job as a rural reporter for the ABC and has been studying for her honours alongside her work.

“It’s totally workable to do Honours part time, which many people don’t realise.

TIA is advertising Honours projects for both July and February 2023, start dates, so if you’re interested in using your science background and learning more about agriculture, we’d love to hear from you!”

After four years of study, Lucy said she was particularly grateful for the support TIA has offered, and the chance to get “into the field.”

“I have been supported every step of the way and I have been able to move interstate, start a full-time job and still be supported by those at TIA,” Lucy said.

And a word of advice?

“Do a little something every day for your project ... it all adds up and makes meeting deadlines just that bit easier!”

Guests are invited to join the mid-year Honours Seminar in-person or via Zoom. Follow this link to register

For more information on Honours projects, please contact Dr Beth Penrose