A young agronomist committed to improving the productivity and profitability of farm businesses was last week honoured with a prestigious Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) award.
Kirsty Smith, who is employed by Landmark, based in Albany, was presented with the GRDC Western Region Emerging Leader Award at the Newdegate Machinery Field Days.
GRDC Western Region Panel member Gemma Walker presented the award, voted upon by the Panel, and congratulated Ms Smith for her willingness to take on additional industry roles that benefited grain growers.
"Kirsty is a member of her local GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) group, that provides the GRDC with information on issues that impact grower profitability in the Albany port zone area," Ms Walker said.
"She is also a member of the GRDC National Variety Trials (NVT) Advisory Committee in WA, that provides advice on the NVT program in the State.
"Kirsty sits on the agronomic panel for the State Government's Regional Estuaries Initiative (REI), providing professional advice to catchment groups and growers participating in fertiliser management projects under the REI's Sustainable Agriculture strategy.
"For four years from 2012 she coordinated the Holt Rock Group, a grower group in WA's south-eastern grainbelt."
Ms Smith, who grew up on a farm at Dumbleyung in WA's Upper Great Southern region, has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from The University of WA (UWA) and a Diploma of Agronomy from the Wodonga Institute of TAFE.
Since 2011, Ms Smith has worked for Landmark, firstly based at Hyden where she worked with clients in the lower rainfall zone, and now from Albany servicing growers in the higher rainfall zone. She won the 2017/18 ADAMA Young Agronomist of the Year Award.
"I always endeavour to take up opportunities when they present themselves, and they generally result in access to new networks of people," Ms Smith said.
"Through my role with Landmark, I maintain contact with agronomists across the State and around the country, and also have personal networks that I have formed at conferences, study tours and events.
"I plan to continue working with growers as an agronomist/adviser and am also interested in agri-politics and technology developments in agriculture, which will drive future gains in our industry.
"I am also passionate about promoting and maintaining agriculture's 'social licence to operate'."
Ms Smith will use the financial scholarship component of her GRDC Emerging Leader Award to travel overseas and investigate whether the commodity legume soybeans could be a suitable fit in WA farming systems.
"Limited profitable legume options consistently comes up as an issue for WA grain growers," she said.
"We do have legumes available to us, but generally they are not widely adopted due to issues such as soil type, market saturation, variable profitability and limited weed control options.
"I want to find out if soybeans could be bred to grow in the WA grainbelt - a cool cropping environment compared with other areas of the world where this crop is currently grown.
"Given the large variation in current soybean genetics, I would like to know if it is possible to breed and develop a variety of soybean that could persist in our winters."
GRDC Project Code: KSM1907-001AWX