New school of thought for Tully Ag Science students

June 24, 2020

Bioreactors and nitrate sensors ignited interesting discussions on the banks of Banyan Creek earlier this month.

Tully State High School Agricultural Science students visited a Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project sub-catchment water quality monitoring station to learn more about the multi-million-dollar project happening in their hometown.

The year eleven and twelve students gained an insight into the multi-faceted project which is working closely with banana and cane growers in the Tully and Johnstone areas to trial a range of innovative treatment systems and approaches to improve water quality.

Teacher and Agricultural Science Co-ordinator at Tully State High School, Warren Giffin, said the excursion provided students with a better understanding of water quality testing methodology and analysis and addressed sustainability, which is part of the new senior Agricultural Science curriculum.

“This unique project is happening right on our doorstep, so it was a great opportunity for students to see the science firsthand,” he said.

“It’s important for this generation to appreciate and understand why water quality and soil health is important, because they’re our future leaders.”

Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project Water Quality Project Officer, Emma-Lee Harper, demonstrated a water quality sampling technique and explained the scientific aspects of the project’s Local Scale Monitoring Program.

“The questions they asked highlighted their degree of comprehension on the subject – it was impressive to see that level of knowledge,” Ms Harper said.

The project’s Tully District Extension Officer, Maria Ribbeck, discussed the importance of soil health and its correlation to water quality.

“As an agronomist, it’s encouraging to see students show an interest in soil health and eager to learn more about how growers are improving their paddocks.

“A few of the students in the class were from farming families. Sharing information and knowledge is a crucial part of this project,” Ms Ribbeck said.

Mr Giffin said some students in the class expressed interest in undertaking tertiary studies in agribusiness and sustainable agriculture after they complete their secondary education.

“Excursions like this are beneficial because they enable students to see how their studies can be applied and how they can make a difference,” he said.

The Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project is funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.