Tahlia Kinrade loved every minute of her time as a Trainee Extension Officer at Burdekin Productivity Services (BPS) through the Queensland Farmers Federation’s (QFF)’s Agricultural Extension Work Placement Program. Contributing to BPS’s goals of productivity, profitability, and sustainability for Queensland’s largest sugarcane-growing region certainly kept her busy throughout the year-long graduate program.

Tahlia majored in Ecology at the University of Queensland and has worked in a variety of roles from monitoring sea turtles on the beaches of a Malaysian island to picking produce for a farm in her hometown of Boonah in the Scenic Rim. She has a keen interest in sustainable land management; inspired by the rural region she grew up exploring, which is a patchwork of agricultural land and national parks.

“The opportunity to participate in the QFF program has taken my skills, knowledge and appreciation of the agricultural industry to new levels due to the quality training and support, and the mentors she had within BPS and other industry partners,” Tahlia said.

“One of my highlights was working alongside experienced professionals with a wealth of knowledge in agricultural extension, water quality and soil health project work.”

Tahlia assisted with two Great Barrier Reef Foundation funded water quality projects. One involved on-farm water quality monitoring that allowed growers and extension officers to compare the impacts of farming practices to reduce nutrient and chemical losses to neighbouring ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef and achieve productivity benefits.

Tahlia was also given the opportunity to lead a set of soil health-focused trials experimenting with council green waste as a soil ameliorant. Being trusted to execute the trial and project work independently, while also being able to draw on the expertise of colleagues, was a recipe for success for Tahlia. She is grateful to BPS for providing such a supportive work environment.

“The QFF program has equipped graduates with grassroots, practical experience and I feels this makes all the difference in solving complex natural resource management issues,” Tahlia said.

The Burdekin growers Tahlia had the opportunity to work alongside also imparted invaluable knowledge and experience.

“I’ve been blown away by the generosity of busy farmers who take the time to stand in the paddock with me and explain how a piece of machinery works or their perspectives on particular practices.

“That’s the best part of extension, it gets to the very heart of understanding land management decisions and you work with people to bring about practice change in a way that makes sense for their farming system.”

“I look forward to continuing to learn how to aid Reef recovery and resilience while maintaining productivity in coastal catchments.”

The Agricultural Extension Work Placement Program is delivered by the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (led by QFF) and funded by the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

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