- June Young Farmer: Dustin Cross
- July Young Farmer: Damien Hawker
- August Young Farmer: Alex Ellifson
- September Young Farmer: George Howard
- October Young Farmer: Tom McGrath
- November Young Farmer: Kate Cross
- December Young Farmer: Damien Cooper
- January Young Farmer: Tom and Lucinda Bourchier
- February Young Farmer: Daniel Rogers
- March Young Farmer: Harry Young
Wimmera Farmer presents a monthly feature that profiles young people in agriculture and looks at what drove them to a life on the land.
HORSHAM’S Laura James has had a few different careers in her life, but believes her heart lies with agriculture.
Laura, 29, grew up in Pyramid Hill, about an hour north of Bendigo.
She now works with pulse breeding at Agriculture Victoria.
She works at Horsham’s Grains Innovation Park.
Laura’s family were contract harvesters and seed cleaners.
“I’m used to driving headers and running big seed cleaning equipment,” she said.
“I loved helping my dad on the farm.”
Laura said unfortunately the millennial drought hit the family hard and there were eventually forced to sell the farm.
She went on to study medical science at university and started work in pharmaceuticals.
Laura worked in pharmaceuticals for about four years, plus one year working in research.
“I knew from the start that agriculture was more suited to me,” she said.
“I really felt like it was more important to prioritise the environment.
“Pharmaceuticals did a lot of good work, but I felt like I was neglecting the land.
“I’m a hiker too, so I like to protect the environment.”
Laura started working at Grains Innovation Park about a year ago.
She’s a technician and works with pulses.
“Mainly lentils, chickpeas and field peas,” she said.
“We are trying to bring technology to pulse breeding.
“We are implementing phenotyping, which is sensors that we can use to measure how the crops are going.
“So we can see a lot more of our crops, a lot more often, rather than getting so many eyes on the ground to look at so many different populations.”
Laura said she enjoyed her work.
“I love it because it changes all the time,” she said.
“You might do something for a week, but then you won’t do it again for a whole year.”
Laura also works in pathology.
“I work with plant diseases and through that I get to work with a variety of people,” she said.
However, the move to a different from pharmaceuticals to agriculture wasn’t easy.
“I was pretty much starting again – it was a huge change,” she said.
“There was so much to learn.
“Leaving family and friends was also hard.
“But at the end of the day it was nice to leave the rat race and contribute lot more to the environment.
“I really believe in what I am doing.”
Laura said she liked living in Horsham.
“It’s nice and close to the Grampians, which is great,” she said.
THROUGHOUT her work with lentil breeding, Laura said the industry was changing.
“People are getting on board with new technology and changes,” she said.
“It’s important for the soil and it’s important for the crop.
“There has been a bigger push for sustainable farming in the media.
“Getting the internet in regional areas has also helped move the industry along.”
Laura believes pulses are the future of the industry.
“I really believe in them,” she said.
“They are great for the ground and great for our health.”
Lauren said farmers who grew pulses last year benefited at harvest, with prices way above cereal crops.
“Chickpea prices are so much more than wheat,” she said.
“The market is still growing too.”
LAURA said she could see her self working in the industry for years to come.