Name: Jess Nottle
Location: Keith, SA
Course(s) Studied: Diploma of Agriculture, Diploma of Agronomy
My name is Jess Nottle and I’m a seed production agronomist and work for PGG Wrightson Seeds based at Keith in South Australia.
It’s job to work with farmers to help them grow good quality, and profitable, pasture seed crops which our company then purchases from the farmer. My role is mainly focused on lucerne, plus aerial and sub clover seed crops, with the odd paddock of forage cereals and a few pulse crops to monitor as well. I cover quite a large area of the south-east of SA, western Victoria and lower NSW, and I absolutely love my job!
So a bit of my history – I previously had no aspirations to become an agronomist and knew almost next to nothing about it! My previous jobs have been office based, although indirectly related to agriculture in a way. In a small country town, its hard not be a part in agriculture!
I was already working with PGG Wrightson Seeds in their Keith office overseeing domestic & export logistics, when a trainee agronomist position became available, so I jumped at the opportunity to learn something new at the ripe old age of 26!
After 2 or 3 months of being on the job and learning the basics of crop agronomy, I did my research looking for a respectable training provider and come across Rural Biz Training. I was mainly looking to complete a Diploma level qualification, at an affordable price, which could be completed online, completely self-paced, with assistance available when I needed it.
After some dialog with Rural Biz, choosing course content, and understanding how their training program works, I signed up to complete a double diploma – one in Agriculture and one in Agronomy!
When I started, almost 18 months ago now, I was pleasantly surprised with the course content and how it was relevant to my job. The course content is structured so you’re learning things that are applicable to you and your area. I based my assessments on farms which I was working on, so I could then share my newly gained knowledge with the farmers, and all were very supportive and appreciated my advice. Most farmers took on my learnings and we are already starting to see the benefits from them doing so.
Each subject I’ve studied has flowed well. Some excellent training material and references are provided, and there are some small quizzes along the way make sure you’re on the right track as your studying. I was also pleasantly surprised with the assessments for each subject. Completing the assessments in sections as you progress through the subject makes them streamlined, so you’re completing assessment questions when the information is fresh in your mind.
For each subject I completed with Rural Biz, I also needed to complete an ‘Ag-Forum’, which is an online group chat with other students currently studying. You talk about what’s going on in your area and share your experiences. It’s been a great opportunity for networking and hearing from others in all sorts of different locations and sectors within the Ag industry for me.
The Rural Biz trainers have always been super helpful and quick to respond with any questions I had. Rural Biz also set you up with a ‘guardian angel’ – sort of a ‘go-to’ person if you need it, which I had frequent contact with. The support given by all the Rural Biz trainers was also incredibly helpful. Not at any time did I feel left out or forgotten, which I think is very important for someone who chooses to study externally.
The biggest benefit of the training for me was the flexibility of the online and self-paced learning. Being able to log on and complete a section or two whenever I had some free time was great. And during the busy periods at work (mainly summer), Rural Biz were super flexible and offered me extensions if I really needed them. Also being able to choose the order to complete subjects was of a big benefit to me. I chose subjects and completed them prior to me requiring knowledge in that area for work (for example, I’m now completing the pasture nutrition subject, so I’ll be ready to give farmers good advice leading into our winter pasture growth period).
The Diploma level courses which I completed are affordable and worth every cent for the knowledge I’ve gained! – unfortunately at the time I was applying there was no study grants available in South Australia, however, I have seen a few pop up for NSW, VIC and there are always different groups within the Ag industry offering scholarships and subsidies for study – it pays to do your research and find out what might be available to you!!
Now I’ve completed the Diploma of Agriculture and have one unit to complete to gain the Diploma of Agronomy qualification. The course has allowed to me to progress my career in agriculture quickly and helped me develop a real passion for the industry and the people in it.
The training with Rural Biz has opened up further opportunities for me to now complete a Bachelor of Agricultural Production and Management with UNE, with many of the units I’ve now completed with Rural Biz, being counted towards the degree.
Overall, if you’re thinking a career in agriculture might be up your alley, this training is an excellent starting point. It’ll help you make contacts and find your feet if you need some direction.
Agriculture is such large sector within Australia, you never know where you might end up!