Spend a day with Wagga's crop nutrition and farming systems scientist

TRIAL PLOTS: NSW Department of Primary Industries crop nutrition and farming systems scientist Graeme Sandral inspects a trial of Beckom wheat. Picture: Nikki Reynolds
TRIAL PLOTS: NSW Department of Primary Industries crop nutrition and farming systems scientist Graeme Sandral inspects a trial of Beckom wheat. Picture: Nikki Reynolds

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INVESTIGATING inputs and systems which help to improve yields is the aim of crop nutrition and farming systems scientist Graeme Sandral. 

Mr Sandral works with NSW Department of Primary Industries based in Wagga. He is from a farming background and grew up on a property at Rand.

5:45am: The day starts with breakfast with his wife Teresa and a quick check of emails and Twitter feed, followed by takeaway coffee at the Blessed Bean.

7:30am: He meets with the Crop Nutrition and Farming Systems team where the work plan for the month and what has to be completed for the day is discussed. Mr Sandral relies on technical officer Russ Pumper as the mastermind of organising people and equipment to ensure research programs are completed as per obligations with GRDC (Grain Research and Development Corporation).

8:00am: “Much of our research is collaborative and we are partnering with Ehsan Travakkoli’s team to complete research at our Ardlethan phosphorus response experiment,” he said. This visit requires dry matter cuts for biomass estimations and soil coring to determine soil Colwell P levels (plant available phosphorus). “The Ardlethan site is one of seven field experimental sites we have running in 2017.” “While at the site we also complete a weed, disease and insect check and make a note of contacting our farmer collaborator Grant Kitto.”

12:30pm: Lunch on site and return calls, messages and any important emails which were received during the morning that can be quickly dealt with.

4:00 pm: “Back at Wagga Research Institute we pack plant and soil samples in the dehydrator to be dried before weighing,” he said. This material goes through Ehsan’s laboratory to determine plant and soil phosphorus concentrations. Senior technical officer Graeme Poile co-ordinates the laboratory analysis.

4:30pm: “If we have an interesting result from our experimental site I will post it on twitter (@gsandral). 

5:00pm: Put together a presentation on our experimental results for upcoming agronomist visit.

6:00pm: Head home and get changed for touch footy.

8:30pm: One Pocket Rocket or Baby Brown (beer) after touch.

9:00pm: Dinner with Teresa.

9:45pm: Read an abstract on crop nutrition, usually on my ipad. On ITV watch either anything Brian Cox is presenting, Utopia or Shaun Mcauliff’s Mad as Hell for a good laugh. Check Twitter. 

10:30pm: Aim to be in bed.