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Imogen's path to agronomy

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24 February 2021

Studying an agriculture degree at Harper Adams can open doors to many career pathways; from farm management to consultancy to teaching the next generation of agricultural students, there is something for everyone. Imogen Christmas, a final year BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Crop Management student, discovered her love for agronomy while at university and shared her journey towards this sector specialism.

“The agriculture course at Harper is perfect if you want to be able to tailor your studies to your interests and have access to a wide breadth of knowledge from lecturers and other students,” Imogen explained. “I first got interested in agriculture after studying plant physiology topics in A level biology and after speaking to some agriculture students from Harper, I saw this degree as the right way for me to pursue this interest.

“I chose Harper because it offered me the freedom to tailor my degree to my interests after my first year, which greatly appealed to me as I didn’t have much experience on-farm.”

Imogen doesn’t come from a farming background and living in an urban area meant she found it difficult to find relevant work experience. However, Harper Adams was able to support her to gain the much needed placement work to meet the entry requirements of the course.

Imogen said: “The Access to Agriculture programme meant that I could start my degree and get my work experience alongside my studies, with help from the university. This was helpful in many ways and it was great to be able to do the courses with other people who were not from farms.

“The PA1 and 2 courses, along with the telehandler and tractor driving course, gave me the skills I needed as I had never driven a tractor before. In the holidays I worked on a mixed farm with sheep, beef and some arable land which helped my practical experience.”

Following these experiences, and having studied the core principles of her degree over years one and two, Imogen was ready to get back to practical work during her placement year. She commented: “I worked at Bayer Crop Science as a farm student working with the farm manager to provide crops for the agronomists who conduct trials on the field stations.

“By working closely with the farm manager and the agronomists I was able to gain knowledge and experience of how trials work, weed and disease identification, and machinery operations. I think that this has given me a better understanding of agronomy which will help me in my future career.”

Now back at Harper Adams, Imogen is completing her dissertation in a linked topic to further delve into work within agronomy. She is studying the potential effects of using biological fungicides on barley instead of synthetic chemicals, and farmers perceptions of this alternative.

Following graduation, Imogen’s goal is to gain FACTS and BASIS qualifications to support her agronomy career.

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