Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Australia to Indiana

This is my first time posting as an Agronomy Ambassador, but I am not a new Agronomy Ambassador. My name is Daniel Sweeney and I am a senior in Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Biotechnology and have been an Ambassador since my sophomore year. I manage to stay pretty busy on campus between being an Agronomy Ambassador and involvement in College of Agriculture Ambassadors, Ag Week Task Force, Agronomy Club, Old Masters, my fraternity, undergraduate research, and Mortarboard leadership honorary. Not to mention applying for graduate school and being on the Homecoming Court this fall! Last semester I decided to take a bit of a break and take a semester to study abroad at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia.  I had never been overseas before so traveling to Australia for five months was a completely new endeavor for me. I would not trade my experience in Australia for anything; I experienced a totally new level of independence, met incredible people from all over the world, and witnessed some of the most beautiful places on Earth. I chose the University of Adelaide for the quality of its agriculture program and took some very interesting courses. My plant health course looked at integrated pest management and offered a different take on pest control than I had received previously. I also took a wine science course which was fascinating. The area around Adelaide is home to some of the finest wine producing regions in Australia and the world. My class covered viticulture, wine making, and sensory evaluation (tasting). It was a bit of a change to learn about a crop that produces a higher quality product in stony sloped ground and where low yield is desirable, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning about a new facet of agriculture. Wheat and barley are the two major row crops grown in the state of South Australia; canola is more prevalent across Victoria and pastureland is ubiquitous to the country. Aussie cropping systems are very different than Midwestern cropping systems but they do share some similarities. South Australia is the driest state on the driest continent in the world so heat and drought resistance are very important in Australia. Disease resistance and salinity tolerance are also paramount. Many South Australian soils are saline and nutrient poor. No-till has become the norm in order to reduce water loss and conserve soils, but herbicide resistant weeds are becoming a large problem.  In my travels to northern Queensland, I also saw large sugarcane fields which were really interesting. Unfortunately I didn’t learn too much about that cropping system. I was able to meet with an Aussie wheat breeder and learn about the Australian wheat industry and I did some lab work for a durum wheat breeder at uni. As much as I learned in an academic setting, I learned so much more outside of the classroom and lab. Traveling opens one’s eyes to the incredible world around them and makes them approach and evaluate decisions much differently. My travels to New Zealand, the Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and all around South Australia increased my wonder for the natural world and conviction that each person is a treasure with a story to tell. Take a look at some of the pictures posted below for a sampling of my adventures!

Upon returning to the United States on July 5th, I had a week at home and then I moved back to campus and worked for Dow AgroSciences at their Fowler station. I led a crew of seasonal employees in the breeding nursery and later assisted with plant and ear height measurements. I had done similar work the last two summers but I was happy just to have a half internship after returning from studying abroad. I had previously worked for Dow AgroSciences at their Indianapolis labs in January before departing for Australia and I was really impressed with their research program and company culture. I look forward to writing for you all in the future! Boiler Up and Hail Purdue!

Daniel Sweeney


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