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Week #5: USQ Toowoomba and Shepparton City Council

Day #1:The first day of the week was spent at the University of Queensland Toowoomba campus, with an AgTech research group called the NCEA.  I spent all my time meeting the faculty members.  All of this was organized by the organization head Dr. Foley.  The work at USQ was very interesting, and is one of the biggest reasons I’m going to take a few engineering classes.  They do research using drones, build machines for other researchers, and have their arms in almost everything.  One of the coolest faculty I met was Les Zeller, a man who has come up multiple times in my turfgrass studies with Professor Rossi.

Day #2:  Tuesday was when the hard work started.  I went out with one of the Agricultural Engineering students to help him with a research project he was running.  We went to a farm with an overhead irrigator and measured the RPM and flow rates of every three sprinkler heads.  This was miserable work.  It was the coldest day I had in Queensland, probably 40 degrees Fahrenheit, extremely windy, and we were running under the water.  To make things worse, I ended up falling into the irrigation ditch.  For how physically challenging this day was, it was nice to see some applied research.

Day #3: I went back to Shepparton early in the morning, and went right to work with the Shepparton City Council.  I was working with the sports field managers for the Shire, which is the Australian version of a county.  They are basically in charge of taking care of the AFL and Cricket ovals that are built in each small town, village, and city.  Because it was the winter, work was slow, so the tasks we completed were mostly small.  Things like moving the Shepparton football grounds growth cover to an area that had taken a rather large amount or wear.  We reseeded, added a topdressing, and then rolled over the problematic areas.  I was also given a brief tour of most of the surrounding ovals and sports fields in the Shire.

Day #4:  Spent day #4 working more with soccer fields.  The main field at the newly constructed $20 Million AUD sports complex was in very good shape.  We added some topdressing to the sideline where the assistant referees run up and down.  After that we repaired sprinkler heads, and drove to other fields to topdress and sometimes reseed.  Though the work wasn’t the most stimulating at the City Council, it was great to see applied turfgrass management, and how much recent research was actually used by the workers in the field, cause one of the first things I learned on the trip was that there’s a massive gulf between research and the actual applications in Australia.

Day #5: Spent at the office on a very quiet day.  Learned about all the council does, and caught up on blog work.

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