From paddock to the final product, working in agriculture offers countless diverse and fulfilling career paths. With this year’s National Agriculture Day theme, ‘Choose your #Agventure,’ we’re taking a look at the diverse roles – and the people in them – at the heart of GrainCorp.
Introducing Tom Koerstz, GrainCorp Area Manager, Dubbo North.
Growing up on a mixed cattle and cropping farm south of Dubbo, NSW, Tom developed a deep appreciation of agriculture at an early age.
“Farming equips you with so many practical skills and engenders a ‘problem solver’ mindset, which is something I’ve tried to carry through to my career,” he says.
After finishing university, Tom took a job with GrainCorp in 2016 in the logistics team, based in Sydney. From there, he’s climbed the operations ladder, moving to Tamworth as a Delivery Planner, focusing on exports, and then the role of Dubbo North Area Manager in June 2021.
Tom is now overseeing four of GrainCorp’s up-country sites, including the biggest grain receival site on the east coast of Australia, in Coonamble.
Thanks to the flexibility of the new role, he’s been able to base himself out of GrainCorp’s office in Dubbo, close to his family farm.
“Working for GrainCorp means I’m working with many different parties across the grains supply chain, as well as gaining experience across logistics, marketing and operations,” he says.
Tom’s now scratching the surface of his own ‘AgVenture,’ leaning on his farming knowledge and his logistics experience to think outside of the box in his job.
“I’m quickly learning no day is the same, there’s always different challenges to solve and work through.
“At Coonamble, we’ve worked with growers to get a feel for what they’re producing and we made the call to run a canola segregation for the first time since 2016, which filled in about two weeks.
“This was going a little against the norm but something I’m pretty proud of,” he adds.
Back on the farm, Tom is harvesting barley, wheat and canola this season with an eye on sustainability.
“I’m a bit experimental when it comes to cropping practices and ways to reduce synthetic fertiliser and chemical use.
“This season, I’ve trialled the use of a worm manure pellet as fertiliser in one paddock and the spreading of a compost blend on another to try and improve soil organic matter and chemistry.
“I’m excited to see how these paddocks perform compared with the paddocks where synthetics have been used.
Tom predicts that as the world’s populations grows, consumers will increasingly look for carbon and greenhouse gas reporting from multinational food companies who have set ambitious targets.
“I believe consumers are going to want to know more about what’s in the food so as farmers – and at GrainCorp – we need to be pretty savvy about it.”