Horizon Scholar Angus Malmo hopes to make a lasting impact on regional Australia, one sustainable step at a time

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Applications are now open for the 2022 AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship Program! Hear from 2021 Horizon Scholar, Angus Malmo about his optimism for the future of agriculture, and how he ultimately hopes to make a positive contribution to rural and regional Australia.

Angus Malmo grew up on a dairy farm in north-eastern Victoria, before his family moved to a mixed farming enterprise in Henty, NSW. Sponsored by the AgriFutures Rice Program, the 2021 AgriFutures Horizon Scholar is eager to combine his passion for applied science and agriculture to forge a career in agronomy, with a focus on implementing emerging techniques on-farm to improve the sustainability of Australian agroecosystems.

Tell us a bit about your background?

Up until I was 10 years old, my family lived on a dairy farm near Katamatite in northern Victoria. I have fond memories of feeding calves and idling behind cows on my PeeWee-50 en route to the dairy. Looking back, I feel an immense amount of pride. I now understand how hard my parents and grandparents worked to create and maintain what was an intensely productive operation with various moving parts. In time, my family sold the dairy farm and moved to Henty, NSW, where we run a mixed cropping and sheep system.

You are now studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Sydney. What were the driving factors behind your decision to follow this field of study?

I was never the sort of farm kid who sat in their parent’s back pocket as they made their way around the farm. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in the farm or agriculture more broadly, I just didn’t really let my passion for agriculture ‘come to the surface’.

Once I was in my final years of high school, I let my interest in agriculture and applied science take over. I realised this pathway would give me the greatest opportunity to be able to positively impact as many people as I could; choosing to study agricultural science and pursuing a career in agronomy was a no-brainer.

I am really enjoying being in a room (or a Zoom) with others who share the same passion; all the agriculture-related conversations that are had with people from a variety of backgrounds have given me a much more nuanced view on a range of topics.

This year you have been awarded an AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship and you’re being sponsored by the AgriFutures Australia Rice Program. What is it about the rice industry, and agriculture more broadly, that excites you?

Having not come from a rice background, I’ve taken a keen interest in how unique the crop is, both its paddock-scale agronomic management and at a single plant-scale with its physiological traits, compared to dryland cereals. What also interests me about the crop is the economic impact that it has on areas like the Riverina and the role it can continue to play in this region’s economy.

I really look forward to forging a career in agriculture, I believe it will enable me to make a valuable contribution to the lives of people across Australia and potentially the world by using my interests and skill set, primarily in the food security space. I am cautious, but nonetheless optimistic about how we can solve the potential challenges that Australian agriculture may face in the coming decades.

I’m also excited about the role that agriculture will need to continue to play in order to maintain, and even improve upon, the decentralisation of Australian cities and how we will need strong regional communities supported by agriculture to achieve this.

What was it about the Horizon Scholarship that appealed to you, and what have you been up to since starting the program?

I applied for a Horizon Scholarship because I saw it as a fantastic opportunity to broaden my skill set and connect with more like-minded people.

I’ve just completed a week-long placement at the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures (CeRRF) in Griffith, working with Dr John Hornbuckle’s team, including former Horizon Scholar and PhD candidate, Matt Champness on automated irrigation. During this placement, I learnt a lot about the different irrigation systems in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area as well as some of the potential future issues that John’s team is trying to solve.

I got some great exposure to the Internet of Things (IoT) devices they are trialling and how they can be implemented in intensive irrigation systems to improve the water use efficiency of the entire farming operation.

How do you think participating in AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship will support your studies and future career ambitions?

When I complete my degree, I hope to pursue a career in agronomy, with a focus on improving the sustainability of Australian agroecosystems. The Riverina, like many agricultural regions across Australia, may face some serious challenges in the near future. With this in mind, I ultimately want to be at the forefront, implementing emerging techniques and technologies on-farm that promote sustainable and robust systems.

The networking opportunities presented by the work placements have allowed me to build professional connections that I don’t think I otherwise would have been able to reach. I’m also really looking forward to getting to know the other Horizon Scholars and making some new mates.

Unfortunately, our professional development workshop has been postposed, however I can’t wait to build my communication and leadership skills when it’s allowed to go ahead (hopefully in October). I believe these skills will be pivotal in making a positive and long-lasting contribution to the sustainable and prosperous future of regional Australia, and more specifically the Riverina region.

About the Horizon Scholarship

AgriFutures Australia is committed to supporting the next generation of leaders that will drive the future prosperity of Australian rural industries and communities. The AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship is awarded to students studying an agriculture-related undergraduate degree or a Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths/Finance (STEM) degree with relevant majors which align to agriculture.

In partnership with industry sponsors, the initiative supports students enrolled in full-time study at an Australian university by providing, a bursary of $5000 per year for the final two years of their degree as well as professional development, work placement and networking opportunities.

Find out more about the AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship Program at agrifutures.com.au/horizon.

About the Rice Program

The AgriFutures Rice Program aims to improve the profitability and sustainability of the Australian rice industry through research, development and extension with a key focus on water use efficiency and varieties that deliver increased yield and improved eating quality.

For more about the AgriFutures Rice Program visit agrifutures.com.au/rice

More about the Horizon Scholarship

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