Gracie Morris, final year BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Crop Management student was the winner of last year’s Pembrokeshire Agriculture Society Student Bursary. As applications are now open for this year’s bursary, we caught-up with Gracie to see how she found out about it, and how it has helped her.
She said: “I learnt about the bursary when Caroline Mason from the Harper Adams Development Trust sent out an email about it.
“I emailed her back to ask for some advice on how to write the application and she was incredibly helpful with tips on how to lay out my application.
“The application involved a 1,000-word piece on ‘how the bursary will assist me to complete my course of study’.
“I sent my application off in the post and received a letter to offer me an interview. The interview was very informal, with the main aim being to find out about what you’re passionate about within agriculture. For me, I discussed how my upbringing on a potato farm in Pembrokeshire had developed my interest in non-chemical methods of controlling damaging potato pathogens.
“The bursary has helped me to invest in some specialist books on potato pathology which have not only helped me with my dissertation but will be useful after I leave Harper Adams and begin my career.
“The bursary has also meant that I have been able to spend more of my free time working on my Honours Research Project (HRP), focusing more of my time on conducting a good study to write my HRP on.”
For her HRP, Gracie has been researching the effect of biofumigation with different Brassica species and cultivars on Rhizoctonia solani (a fungal pathogen of potatoes).
She added: “The aim of the study is to determine whether growing certain Brassica species, then chopping and incorporating the plant tissue into soil will inhibit or delay germination of Rhizoctonia solani inoculum.
“This could be implemented commercially by using biofumigation to reduce the amount of fungal inoculum in the soil on a field scale, therefore reducing the amount of disease symptoms. The symptoms of Rhizoctonia solani in potatoes are mainly black scurf, and stem and stolon canker.”
Gracie has already secured a graduate job as a trainee agronomist with Produce Solutions. She said: “I’ll receive training towards FACTS and BASIS qualifications so that I will be a fully qualified agronomist.
“I’ll also be involved with helping to set-up and maintain potato field trials as well as supporting the agronomists to provide technical advice to the growers.
“I’ll be based in East Anglia. I’m looking forward to moving away from my home county and experiencing potato production in another part of the UK.
“Eventually, I’d like to be an independent potato agronomist and be self-employed with my own consultancy business.”
Find out more about the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society Student Bursary, visit the Society’s website: https://www.pembsshow.org/news/student-bursary-2019.aspx