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    Placement year meant Harper ‘was a top choice for me’ says agronomist Millie

    30 May 2024

    For many Harper Adams undegraduates, their placement year helps equip them with vital skills to pursue their chosen career.

    This was certainly the case for  FdSc Agriculture student Millie Woolnough,who is currently on placement with BASF,  researching and developing crop protection products.

    Despite not coming from an agricultural background, Millie is using her placement year to hone her understanding of agronomy - as she explains in this guest blog.

    At the beginning of 2022 I started working on a dairy farm, which is where my love of agriculture first began.

    As I did not grow up in a farming environment, I was initially hesitant to pursue a career in the agricultural industry due to my lack of experience and knowledge. However, I decided to apply for a course at Harper Adams and enrolled on the FdSc Agriculture course in September 2022.

    After starting at Harper, I quickly developed an interest in agronomy and wanted to explore this side of agriculture during my placement year.

    I applied for a placement with BASF Agriculture, who specialise in research and development of crop protection products using field trials. I was fortunate enough to be selected and started my placement in July 2023 as an Assistant Technical Agronomist, just before harvest began!

    A placement at BASF stood out to me due to the variety of opportunities within the company and the range of experience I could gain during my year with them.

    With no experience in the crops sector, within six months of being a student at BASF, I have gained an insight into harvesting and spraying crops, processing seed, handling chemical as well as completing my PA1 and PA6 qualifications, all of which I will find beneficial for the rest of my course at Harper Adams and beyond.

    Harper Adams University was a top choice for me due to the fact a placement year is a core element of the course.

    With no prior farming experience behind me, having the chance to complete a placement year meant that I could develop and learn new skills as well as meet new people who were experts in their field. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone for my placement and applied for positions that I had little knowledge of to get the most out of my year.

    So far, working at one of the world’s leading chemical companies alongside development agronomists has given me the chance to learn the basics of agronomy and see a different side to agriculture. The hands-on nature of the placement has made me feel an integral part of the team and has given me opportunities I feel would not be possible without my time at BASF.

    During my first year at Harper, I decided I would like to further my knowledge in agriculture, especially within the crops sector.

    Having worked hard in my first year to achieve a good grade, on the basis of my results I was offered the opportunity to transfer from FdSc Agriculture to the BSc Hons Agriculture with Crop Management course.

    I am looking forward to commencing my crop management studies when I return in September. The agronomy experience I have gained whilst working at BASF will be invaluable to underpin my studies going forward.

    Jonathon Reed, R&D Operations Manager at BASF added: “Amelia is a valuable member of the R&D Operations team; her role is integral to R&D companies such as BASF who develop new and innovative crop protection solutions.

    “We recruit three to four placement students a year and we develop their practical agronomy skills to fully contribute to the teams overall goals. We have found that the year in a placement greatly assists their employability when they graduate.

    “We have also found the skill sets developed over the placement make them suited to a wide range of agronomic roles and this means several return to BASF and continue their careers with us.”

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