ADAMA Australia Young Agronomist of the Year winners tour Israel

The three winners of the 2017/18 ADAMA Young Agronomist of the Year competition return from an action-packed study tour to Israel, equipped with fresh agricultural insight to support them in their agronomy roles here in Australia.

The talented trio spent 12 days touring Israel’s top agricultural and tourist sites in recognition of their achievements throughout last year’s competition.

Overall winner Kirsty Smith of Albany, WA, runner-up Emma Ayliffe of Griffith, NSW and Rising Star Michelle Egan of Shepparton, VIC, were accompanied by ADAMA Australia’s Commercial Manager for NSW, Peta Miguel throughout the trip.

“It was a privilege to escort the girls on their study tour to Israel,” Peta said.

“They’ve experienced an authentic and varied picture of Israeli agriculture, including a real insight into challenges that growers face, many of which are similar to those here in Australia. I’m confident our award winners will be able to draw upon their experiences of the trip at different points throughout their future career.”

The group spent time with the ADAMA global team at Airport City (ADAMA HQ), including SVP Strategy & Resources, Dani Harari to learn more about ADAMA’s AgTech space and the company from a global perspective, as well as having an exclusive tour of the ADAMA Agan Production Plant.

They also explored trial sites with some of the ADAMA global and India teams, touring in the Ein Yahav region of Israel with a local grower looking at how they manage water supplies in the desert for the production of vegetable and herb crops in green houses / net houses. They spent time understanding how the moshav community works and how they market their products and what some of the limitations they face around water, soil type, staff and how they manage this in their environment.

They also had the opportunity to meet the team at SupPlant, visiting a trial site at Kfar Yehoshual looking at new sensor technology and an automated closed loop irrigation system which is increasing water efficiencies and yield through stress monitoring.

The team also managed to squeeze in all the must-see tourist sites to complete their study tour, including exploring the wonders of Petra, touring Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, and visiting the Dead Sea.

Talking about her highlights from the trip, Kirsty Smith said: “Israel is an amazingly diverse country, rich in history. One highlight for me was seeing how they invest in agriculture and have an overall great respect for their farmers.

“They seem to be very solutions driven and if they come across a problem they will develop something to overcome it - it was refreshing to see that if they have an idea, they can make it happen,” Kirsty said.  

“’I’ve already been promoting some of the ideas I was exposed to over there to clients at home. I think they are ahead of the game with some of their technology and the sooner we can introduce it over here, the better.

“I’m incredibly grateful to ADAMA Australia for the opportunity, it was great to meet some of their colleagues and gain an insight into their global operation and what the future looks like for the company. Digital agriculture is an exciting space and will be the future moving forward, ADAMA is well and truly going to be at the forefront of this space.”

Competition runner-up, Emma Ayliffe said: “We’ve spent the most amazing 12 days exploring a fantastic mix of tourist locations and visits to lots of agricultural industry sites.

“One of my favourite parts was our visit to SupPlant to look at irrigation technology and some of the AgTech projects which Israel is developing for plant sensing and irrigation automation, not to mention floating around in the Dead Sea and crossing the border into Jordan to visit Petra which was absolutely phenomenal. I cannot recommend Israel enough as somewhere to put on your bucket list,” Emma said.

“This award has been fabulous in lots of ways, but the biggest thing for me was making connections with two other female agronomists and being able to add them to my network of support. It’s really nice to have people who are potentially going to be experiencing similar challenges and bounce ideas off them.”

Winner of the Rising Star category in the competition, Michelle Egan said: “It really was a trip of a lifetime, we saw some amazing places and people. Personal highlights for me included talking to Michal Arlosoroff, ADAMA’s SVP General Legal Counsel, Company Secretary & CSR Officer about women in Ag.

“I also really loved looking around Ein Yahav, it was great to see what practices they had developed there to overcome the challenges of their environment, how they grow these beautiful crops in the middle of the desert with salt water, sand and 30mm average rainfall. I think my biggest take away was their attitude to water and how they manage it. With the current water situation here, I think we could learn a lot from them,” Michelle said.

“I’d encourage every young agronomist to get involved in this competition.”

Agronomists Emma Ayliffe, Kirsty Smith and Michelle Egan exploring the wonders of Petra, Jordan.
Our Young Agronomist winners spending time with the SupPlant team at a trial site at Kfar Yehoshua, looking at new sensor technology and an automated closed loop irrigation system.
Left to right: Agronomists Kirsty Smith, Emma Ayliffe and Michelle Egan pictured outside the ADAMA Agan Production Plant ready for their site tour.
Our Young Agronomist winners pictured with the ADAMA Global and India teams exploring a potato trial site.
Our Young Agronomist winners pictured in the Ein Yahav region of Israel with a local grower, looking at how they manage water supplies in the desert for the production of vegetable and herb crops in green houses / net houses.