A career truly enjoyed
Technical Officer Pam Batt continues to enjoy a career she truly loves.
What attracted you to a career in the agricultural industry?
I did not come from a farming background, but I’ve been involved in the agricultural industry in one way or another for many years. I have picked and packed bananas in North Queensland and ran my own gardening business on the North West Coast of Tasmania. I have also worked in the micro propagation area, mostly working on eucalypts and pyrethrum. Prior to joining Serve-Ag Research (which Peracto was previously known as) in 1997, I worked as a quality control officer and harvest inspector for carrot and tulip production and was also involved in setting up and maintaining the ISO9002 quality assurance system. Always having an interest in plant diseases and quality problems, I kept records of my own observations on most paddocks and crops that I visited and had the good fortune to share this information with Dr Hoong Pung who was involved in a carrot disease project. It was at this stage that I was truly bitten by the research bug and joined the research team under the guidance of Hoong.
How long have you been at Peracto? What is your current role?
I first joined the research team over 20 years ago. Initially I worked for eight years, but due to ill health, I left and became involved in disability support work teaching commercial cooking and service industry skills. This led me to becoming a qualified commercial chef. After five years in the cooking industry I realised the need to return to the agricultural research industry. Fortunately, I had kept in contact with my former colleagues and management from Peracto and jumped at the chance to return to the team in 2013. In my role as a technical officer I am involved with assessing, managing and recording trials whether they are diseases, weeds or insects. I have been involved in a diverse range of projects, surveys and product evaluation trials both in the field and glasshouse.
What have been some of the major changes that you have witnessed in the industry?
The major changes have been the introduction of technology and the geographical spread of Peracto. For example, the use of iPad, iPhone and iCloud has not only astounded me but at times totally confused me (old school – pen and paper girl). Although I realise these changes make for a more accurate and efficient way to share information. I am keen to learn all I can about the use of drones in the agricultural research industry as I feel that this technology can generate data which allows us to more accurately assess trials. The ever-evolving geographical spread of Peracto, now merged with Staphyt, has enabled us to broaden our expertise and services in many ways.
What do you enjoy most about working in the industry?
What I enjoy most is knowing that every day I go to a job that I honestly love, and each day I learn something new. How many people can say that? I have loved this work for over 12 years. I have had access to the most amazing mentors that have been more than willing to share their knowledge with me. Also, the graduate program has allowed me to meet and interact with young people who share in my passion for the industry. It gives me faith that the industry will continue to be in good hands. I love field work and the chance to be outside. The camaraderie of field work with a great team is second-to none where even the most mundane task can be fun.
Christian Rettschlag, field agronomist, station Merdingen, Germany
Christian worked as a technical officer with Peracto staff at Tasmania’s Devonport Office where he looked forward to learning about conducting field research in different crops; assessing and monitoring trials; and collating assessment data with colleagues. He also was looking forward to help train Australian colleagues in the use of the new project management systems. “It was a pleasure for me that I was given the chance to become part of this very good team during my time here,” Christian said. An experience he benefitted from involved the use of different coloured pegs in trials. “Using different coloured pegs is really helpful at application and assessment because they are taller and colourful compared to the European ones, therefore helping to support the orientation within the trial much better,” he said. “We could master the trials with good to very good success in a very efficient way, mainly due to the great team spirit within the Tasmanian offices.”
Tristan Delmotte, technician based at Staphyt headquarters, Inchy-en-Artois, France
Tristan spent time in both Australia and New Zealand for his exchange, which has left an ever-lasting impression. “In 2017, I had the opportunity to work in the Melbourne office and also travel to Tasmania for an induction program,” he said. “When in Tasmania I discovered a totally different landscape and was told it was similar to New Zealand. From this instant I knew I wanted to go there. Six months later I was based at Peracto’s Pukekohe Office and was not disappointed at all. I received a very warm welcome from the team who also helped me to settle in. When on the office exchange I was keen to gain exposure to new crops and working techniques, but also to experience a different culture and to meet new people. “On both office exchanges I was working on a wide range of crops that I was not familiar with in France including kiwifruit, citrus, almonds and forage brassica.My daily work included pegging trials, spraying, assessing and report writing (Melbourne). I have gained new knowledge about different types of crops, pests and diseases, as well as work methods that are different from France and will benefit me greatly in my future career. I also got the chance to work with a great team in New Zealand, improve my English skills and travel to see as much of the beautiful country as I could.”
Germain Mesieres, field agronomist, Perwez, Belgium
Germain spent time at Peracto’s Bundaberg Office in Queensland, before visiting the Hastings Office in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. “I looked forward to discovering a new country, meeting new people and colleagues of another culture on the other side of the world and the chance to learn from them,” Germain said.“In Hastings I mainly worked in orchards and vineyards, spraying and assessing efficacy trials. I also helped across a number of tasks including pruning, ground preparation of a research block and maintenance of different crops. Some of the tasks were new for me, like apple pruning, which made the experience very interesting. It was also new for me to work in vineyards, and also my experience in orchards was limited so now I have new technical skills which I hope to use in Europe.”
Sebastiano Emmolo, station manager, Aprilia, Italy
Melbourne with the experience going beyond his expectations. “I have been working for Staphyt for over three years, and the idea of doing this experience in Australia was something I was looking forward to,” Sebastiano said. “I immediately thought that doing such an experience would not only enrich me from a professional point-of-view, but also from a cultural point-of-view. I also thought that living and working in a country that is totally different from mine for five months would be an unforgettable experience. I can now say that all of my thoughts came true, and the reality has gone beyond my expectations. From a professional point-of view I have learnt about new crops with different cultivation techniques and I have also gained interesting experimentation techniques from my Melbourne colleagues. I also taught the basic principles of the Staphyt system with not only my colleagues in Melbourne, but also in Devonport at the Peracto headquarters where I had the chance to meet and get to know many staff. Overall, it was a great experience that I would recommend to everyone.”