City view on ag methods impress judges

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A STUDENT from Christ Church Grammar School was declared the winner of a Statewide geography competition last month, with his project on weed seed destructors impressing the judging panel.

Luke Annear, a year nine student who was born and raised in Perth, won the WA Young Geographer of the Year for his age group.

His project investigated the issue of annual ryegrass in the Wheatbelt and the increasing use of new technology, known as weed seed destructors, to manage their spread.

The idea for the project came after a conversation with Southern Brook grower Ty Fullwod, who is friends with Luke’s geography teacher Jon Wyllie.

“We asked Mr Fullwood what one of the biggest problems for him was and he told us it was annual ryegrass, so I researched a bit about that and found the weed seed destructors could be a solution to that problem,” Luke said.

“I learnt that there are a lot of challenges that farmers are facing, but there are a lot of new technologies coming through, like the seed destructor, that are really helpful and really amazing.”

The topic for the competition was biomes and food security, so Mr Wyllie thought it appropriate to get a farmer’s input on the matter.

“A lot of city folk, like the students here at Christ Church, don’t have a great understanding of anything outside an urban area, so they don’t understand a lot of the challenges being faced in the country,” Mr Wyllie said.

“For most of these students, without doing this sort of research, food is just something which is on their plate and they don’t think about all of the science which goes into the farming and production of their food.

“This sort of assignment gives them a good insight into rural life and the realities of food production.”

Luke said he found it really interesting to learn about all the effort that goes into creating machines such as the weed seed destructor.

“Agriculture is a big part of the WA economy and a big part of our culture in a way, so I thought there could be some problems and researching that could help,” Luke said.

“It gave me the idea that there are so many careers surrounding all the problems in agriculture and there is a big field in machinery and technology to help solve those problems with agriculture.”

Luke was presented with his award and a $250 cash prize which he used to buy a second-hand surfboard, at the WA Geography Teachers Conference, hosted by the Geographical Association of Western Australia (GAWA).

Mr Wyllie said Luke put a lot of time and effort into the project and was able to produce something which was informative and interesting.

“He made a couple of his own diagrams of the structure of annual ryegrass and of the weed seed destructor, so the reader could visualise the make-up of the weed and how the machine works,” he said.

“When they’re assessing the projects, the markers don’t know which school it’s from and they said it seemed like the work of a student who had grown up in the Wheatbelt in terms of the depth of knowledge which was in there.

“Luke winning the competition was recognition for his excellent work, but it was also an indirect acknowledgement of me as his teacher, so it was nice to be a part of it and it was an honour to be there on the day he got his award.”

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