Spend a day with Brad Baxter, technical officer, cereal pathology

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ROTATION SOLUTION: Brad Baxter is a technical officer, cereal pathology with NSW DPI based in Wagga and he is inspecting trial plots. Picture: Nikki Reynolds

ROTATION SOLUTION: Brad Baxter is a technical officer, cereal pathology with NSW DPI based in Wagga and he is inspecting trial plots. Picture: Nikki Reynolds

WORK from trials continually provides primary producers with the latest strategies in dealing with pests and disease and making the most of yields. 

Brad Baxter is a technical officer, cereal pathology with the NSW Department of Primary Industries based in Wagga. When interviewed by The Rural he was working on some trials that are helping to understand crown rot and effective solutions to minimise the losses from this. Mr Baxter’s career started out in Wagga and he studied Environmental Science at Charles Sturt University before taking up a role with DPI. 

6am: The day starts by having breakfast with my wife Jaclyn and daughter Izzy (10 months). “This generally includes pushing Izzy around on her bike for most of breakfast and then cleaning up her mess under the high chair," Mr Baxter said. 

7.30am: Mr Baxter starts his day by organising the work program in collaboration with the other technical staff in the cereal pathology group. “This time is used to complete emails, phone calls or any other office-based activities that are needed to successfully conduct the day before we head to the trial plots,” he said. 

9am: The disease trials and paddock surveys are inspected and there is an inoculation of the trials with diseases. This time is also used for data collection or carrying out management activities such as sowing, spraying or harvesting.

“Management activities include data recording which is quite a regular occurrence when growing six different crop types within a single trial,” he said.

“Today in particular, there is an emphasis on collecting readings using an electromagnetic survey machine (EM38),” he said.

This machine measures the conductivity of soil which can be used to estimate soil moisture and changes in soil type and salinity. 

12.30pm: It is lunch time in the shed with the rest of the team. 

1pm: “We complete any outstanding items which need attention … this time is used to record, save and process data,” he said. It is also a chance to plan tasks for the following day. 

4pm: Finish work for the day. “I usually call Jaclyn to let her know I’m leaving and we meet at the house we are building and have a look or go and run some errands,” he said. 

6pm: Daughter Izzy has a bath and enjoys story time before going to bed. 

7pm: After cleaning up from dinner it is time to get organised for the next day. 

8pm: There might be an opportunity to watch some television or research things for the house which is being built … and relax. 

9.30pm: Bed and then repeat it all the next day.