Agronomist Casey Onus loves her job so much she’s never “worked” a day in her life

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Casey Onus brings us today’s special guest blog. A 22 year old agronomist from Tamworth, NSW, who despite being a “Townie” her whole life was born for a career in agriculture – literally! This is Casey’s story…

If you want to be outstanding in your field, you’ve got to be out standing in your fields. There aren’t any shortcuts and I know I’ve certainly got a long way to go.

I’m Casey Onus…

I attended my first agronomy meeting chaired by Dallas Parsons at Seed & Grain Sales at Croppa Creek on the morning of the 8th of January 1993 at 0 days old and was born later that afternoon at Goondiwindi base hospital. Despite living in town my whole life I spent a fair chunk of my childhood with my father bouncing around paddocks identifying weeds for lollies and weaving my way through what seemed like forests of cereals and sorghum, trying not to lose myself down Moree’s heavily cracked black soil plains in the process.

Throughout school I never really focused on what I wanted to do as a career. I assumed at age 12 that I was going to be member of The Saddle Club and that would be my job, but I quickly realised that wasn’t going to happen.

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Gave up my childhood dream of being a member of “The Saddle Club” to chase a career in Ag

In years 9 & 10 at St Philomena’s we had the option to pick our elective subjects and being the outdoors kid that I was I picked Ag because I didn’t want to be stuck in a classroom for any longer than I had to be. I was fortunate enough to have a very passionate Ag teacher who really made me see how important agriculture was not just to me but everyone; if you had to eat or wear clothes then you needed something from agriculture.

I was lucky enough to not only enjoy Ag as a subject but also turn that enjoyment into results which saw me win the Dallas Parsons memorial agricultural award in year 10 as well as take out the CMA property planning competition on “Nullamanna station” in 2008.

During year 10 I also attended a Rotary Youth in Ag Youth in Cotton camp which really opened my eyes to the endless opportunities that agriculture had to offer. I got so much out of the camp that I volunteered to help in the running of the camp in subsequent years and ended up presenting the marketing and moisture management sections of the camp. It was great to see so many young people, especially from costal backgrounds coming along to see what the local cotton and agricultural industry was about and if they took away half of what I did from the camp then it was well worth the time and effort.

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My first crop of Mungbeans at Caroona on the Liverpool plains, made easy having recently attended the AMA Mungbean training & accreditation course

During years 11 & 12 at Moree Secondary College I unfortunately didn’t have the option to study agriculture as a subject as there were simply not enough students at my school for it to run. This didn’t concern me overly until it came down to crunch time. All of a sudden I was headed for the HSC with no idea of what I was going to do at the end of it. At this time I was offered a job as a bug checker by the branch manager at Landmark in Moree over the holidays. I spent endless hours out in the various crops getting muddy, bitten, sunburnt and couldn’t have loved it more.

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Hard not to love views like this – Barley at Loomberah NSW

Although my father is an agronomist I wasn’t convinced that all agro’s loved their job as much as he did, but being out in the paddock every day and seeing how unique each farm was showed me exactly how rewarding it was. I got to see the tiny plants that I’d checked for months on end finally produce lint, grain and oilseeds.

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Getting hands on in soil science at UNE, definitely one the most useful and exciting subjects according to Chris Guppy….. but he’s probably a bit biased!

I applied for the Bachelor of Agriculture at UNE in Armidale and decided I was going to chase my dream of becoming an agronomist. Uni was hard and I certainly lost count of the amount of times I wanted to throw in the towel, but heading home for holidays and getting amongst the crops kept me going and rekindled my motivation to get me through another year. I completed several Agronomy, Soils, Cotton and Grains units as part of my degree and even managed to get an article “Finding Cotton’s Next Generation” published in the 2013 Cottongrower magazine yearbook.

Despite having one unit left to complete as part of my degree I applied for the Landmark Graduate Agronomy Program and was accepted for a position in Tamworth, under the watchful eye of their agronomist Cameron Barton. Despite already working for Landmark for 3 years, my graduate year taught me a hell of a lot at an incredible pace.

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Views from my “office window”

In my graduate year I was lucky enough to fly to Albury with Heritage Seeds to learn about pasture systems and varieties and learnt a lot from countless field days, GRDC events and industry updates. As well as joining the local Duri Ag Bureau and taking on my own clients with a range of new crops, not just the cotton and broadacre I was used too. All of a sudden I was trying to grow ryegrass not kill it! I was lucky enough to stay on at Landmark Tamworth and am now a fully-fledged agronomist working with a great group of farmers from all backgrounds as well as providing tailored agronomic advice, precision agriculture services such as NDVI imagery, variable rate maps, capacitance probes and everything in between.

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Growers attending our pasture demonstration trial walk at Woolomin.

They say “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” and I firmly believe they are talking about jobs in Australian Agriculture. Because I certainly haven’t “worked” a day in my life yet.

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