Grains research internships leading to research, career gains for EP

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Applied grains research intern Alex Busch will spend 2024 working with EPAG Research and AIR EP on local research projects.

A new generation of agriculture students are gaining first-hand experience working across the Eyre Peninsula, thanks to a successful internship program that’s leading to local careers and expanding research capacity for the region.

Established in 2021, three interns have already completed on-ground training through the program and since secured employment in the local agricultural sector.

AIR EP Executive Officer Naomi Scholz said the program affords new agriculture graduates valuable experience, while contributing to local research and attracting skilled people into local careers.

“The program gives our interns the opportunity to learn as much as possible about being a grains researcher, to experience different farming systems and develop their networks across the EP,” Ms Scholz said.

“Interns also contribute to research across our region by identifying a suitable research question, designing and running their own trial to investigate, analysing the results and presenting their findings to farmers. In addition, they’re also learning about ongoing research by working alongside our research teams in on-ground trials, attending local farming and environment events, and meeting farmers and advisors to learn about local issues and opportunities to address through research, development and extension.”

Starting in February 2024, the fourth grains intern Alex Busch will spend a year working on the EP, which is funded by the SA Grains Industry Trust (SAGIT) and SA Drought Hub and offered in partnership with AIR EP and EPAG Research.

Raised on his family’s sheep and cropping farm outside Saddleworth in the Mid North, the internship is a pivotal step in his career change.

“After finishing school, I began a career in surveying while still working on the family property, however, after several years working in civil and construction I wanted a change and to get back to agriculture,” Alex said.

Alex returned to university to study a Bachelor of Science, majoring in GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and Soil Science, with a strong interest in how he could apply his learning to the agricultural industry.

“I want to make a positive difference in agriculture, particularly in the management of soils,” he said.

“I’m excited to be working on the EP with the vast range of landscapes and challenges, which are significantly different from my own area. I’m looking forward to the learning opportunities that projects addressing these challenges will provide.”

Alex is also keen to expand his extension skills. “Education and sharing of knowledge are a passion of mine, which I’m eager to share through extension work,” he said.

“I am fortunate enough to practice this as part of a teaching team that takes students and young professionals from all three of Adelaide’s universities and teaches them about soil pit classification. I’m looking forward to opportunities the internship will provide to build my communication skills and deliver research to where it is needed most.”

The three past interns from the program have all found success with local careers. Rhaquelle Meiklejohn works full-time with EPAG Research as a Research Officer, Rebekah Fatchen is working with AIR EP as a Project Officer, and Elijah Luo has secured a Research Officer role with SARDI’s Minnipa Agricultural Centre.

“The internship program has proven invaluable for attracting skilled graduates to the EP and retaining them in ongoing careers, with three of our past interns finding jobs in agricultural research with AIR EP, EPAG Research and SARDI,” Ms Scholz added.

For more information about AIR EP and its projects, visit

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