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Delta agronomy team thriving on its own training ground

Delta Ag’s graduate agronomy and agribusiness training programs are proving a successful foray into the industry, focusing on giving a broad range of experiences and advice whilst ensuring not to put pressure on young professionals too early.

According to Chris Duff, Executive Director of Delta Agribusiness and Group Manager Advisory, the company, which now has more than 40 agronomists/consultants across its network, is always seeking expressions of interest and applications from interested graduates. Intakes are based on opportunities in particular locations, long-term planning for future company growth, and those who may have completed a university placement, who then may gain employment within the network. The program takes between 18 to 24 months to complete, with the first six months focused on a broader knowledge at a branch level handling merchandise and general enquiries, through to ‘in the paddock’ mentoring, before the level of responsibility grows and agronomists then start advising their own local clients. “We are really focused on trying to get the right people with the right skills into our business. We believe that mentoring and focusing on communication and interactions with farmers and other industry professionals is one of the key components to the program, and is just as important as gaining a broader technical knowledge,” Chris Duff says. After growing up on a mixed family farming enterprise at Hamilton in Victoria, Grenfell Agronomist/Consultant Jenna Brewis graduated from Charles Sturt University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, and a huge smile, believing she was then poised with the knowledge of a broad range of agricultural systems, the ability to consult with growers across various farming landscapes. However, after accepting a role with Delta Ag to complete one of the company’s own graduate traineeships, she quickly realised that there was a lot more to learn. “In the beginning, when I joined Delta three years ago, I was based in the merchandise area of the Young branch learning more about the products and how to complete orders, as well as, interacting with clients and discovering their needs,” Jenna explains. “I attended many field days and training seminars in Dubbo and Wagga, and I was also spending a lot of time actually in the paddock with more senior agronomists listening to their advice given to growers, also making sure I’d ask any questions I needed to, so I gained a real practical insight into a consultancy role. “I really think that’s the unique thing about Delta – the team environment – I still rely on the continual advice given to me and working with these fellow agronomists and senior team members in my day-to-day role. “I’ve got friends who I went to university with who have started working in agronomy roles with other companies, but they haven’t stayed in them very long because they’ve got limited access to mentors and ongoing support from more senior agronomists.”Now, after accepting a full-time role based at Grenfell, she is enjoying growing her own client base around the region and working with a range of growers.

“I feel like I’ve landed on my feet pretty well, I am really fortunate to have been given this opportunity.” Ardlethan Agronomist Chris Bell has always wanted to be involved in farming and agriculture. From his early days growing up on the family property at Ariah Park, to living off the farm in Western Australia for a year after he finished school, a career in rural industries was something he believes he was destined for. He also studied at Charles Sturt University, completing a Bachelor of Science (Agronomy) course in 2008, and was particularly interested in joining Delta because of the structure of the graduate program and the company’s progressive and innovative approach.

“Being involved in the program is all a gradual process and I believe that through involvement in the traineeship there is no pressure to step into an agronomy role without the experience and the confidence. It has been really beneficial for the longevity of my career because I wasn’t put into highly stressful situations and being forced to make decisions on multimillion dollar enterprises as a 20-year-old and without the experience to back it up,” Chris, who has just finished his 10th growing season with Delta, says.

“For the first 12 months I was in the Temora store learning how the business operates at a branch level and with the closeness of the agronomy group and my experience at the time, I always felt comfortable in approaching anyone. Four years ago I was then given the opportunity to be the senior advisor at the Ardlethan branch.

“Delta seems to build branches around the team, and that’s highly evident in the advisor group. We have regular catch ups with the southern and northern groups throughout the growing seasons and I feel it’s a real strength of the business to have that close network.

“Delta’s leading force in agriculture is a real incentive for some of the younger people coming through, they want to position themselves with a company that is progressive and innovative. “Clients are also becoming more interested in the progression of agriculture and technological advancements in farming systems and I believe this new generation who are becoming involved in farming enterprises and making management decisions are driving the appetite for newer technologies.”

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