Spend a day with Wagga crop physiologist Dr Felicity Harris

IN agriculture producers are constantly chasing the bottom line.

Understanding the science behind some of our most popular cereal varieties is integral in that goal. The Rural investigates what a day with local crop physiologist Dr Felicity Harris of the NSW DPI entails. From the paddock, to the office, and at home Dr Harris explains her role. 

6:30am: Dr Harris is a mum of three children, Bailey, 10, Clare, 7 and George, 3. The day starts with organising lunches, daycare schedules and preparing to catch school buses. 

8.30am: After a commute from Junee, where Dr Harris grew up on her family’s mixed farming property, she is ready for the day’s work at the NSW DPI Wagga site.

9am: Once a week, on Monday, the technical staff have a meeting to discuss their work and assess what needs to be done. 

10am: Work in the paddock, or field site, often starts. If this is in Wagga it in close proximity to the office. However, there are plenty of other sites which are regularly visited too. 

Noon: “I will record the data and write reports from information gathered,” she said. This time might also be used to prepare project proposals. 

3pm: Dr Harris completed her agricultural studies at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Wagga and one of the rewarding parts of her role now is working with honours students. 

3.30pm: Often this time takes Dr Harris back to the field sites. It is also a good opportunity to visit sites located to the north of the region and incorporate the journey into a round trip back to Junee. 

5pm: It’s a chance to switch gears from working as a crop physiologist and move into the mode of taking children to local sport training. 

6pm: A highlight of each week is when Dr Harris plays social netball with a group of friends in Junee. She said support from the children at these games was enormous because each mum had two or three children who came along to watch. 

7.30pm: The evening routine begins with home reading, homework, dinner and ironing of school uniforms for the next day. 

8.30pm: And if all goes to plan … Dr Harris jokes that she gets to watch popular television show Offspring

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR OTHERS: Dr Harris says there are excellent opportunities for careers in agriculture. She said the options were diverse and it was a chance to work in a progressive industry. In her career she had enjoyed teaching at CSU as well as carrying out a research role. “It is possible to have many roles in a lifetime and (the options) are diverse,” she said.