IMPORTANT INSIGHT: Senior Lecturer Dr Anthony Young reminded students that agriculture was important not because they would all become farmers, but because they would all have to eat.
IMPORTANT INSIGHT: Senior Lecturer Dr Anthony Young reminded students that agriculture was important not because they would all become farmers, but because they would all have to eat. Dominic Elsome

Monster sunflowers compete at UQ

A MASSIVE sunflower weighing nearly 3kg has taken out the 19th annual UQ Sunflower Competition at the UQ Gatton campus today.

Nanango State High's monster 2.97kg took out the top-prize, fending of competition from around the nation.

Students compete in the event to grow sunflowers in a number of categories - including tallest and heaviest yield - with prizes being presented on the day by industry representatives from groups such as AgForce, Pacific Seeds and the Australian Sunflower Association, giving students an important networking opportunity.

Senior lecturer at UQ and keynote speaker for the day Dr Anthony Young said the competition was an important way to help students learn about agriculture in an engaging, hands-on manner.

"We want them to be able to participate, not everyone's going to become a farmer or a leading researcher in the agricultural field, but it's important for us to know that the students know where their food comes from.” Dr Young said.

"We live in an age where everyone's got a hand-held device that's connected to the internet, and can find out how to dissect a cane toad or whatever information you want, but unless you're actually seeing the plants grow and seeing the different changes you make to the soil or the shade, or the fertiliser requirements, unless you're actually doing that you can't get a good comprehension of that.”

For the second year in a row, Nanango State High cleaned up well at the event, taking out several prize categories as well as the 'Overall Grand Champion - Heaviest Recorded Yield' prize.

Students from Nanango State High took out several wards, including 'Overall Heaviest Grand Champion' for the second year in a row.  The 19th annual UQ Sunflower Competition was judged on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
Agriculture students from Nanango State High took out several categories on the day. Dominic Elsome

Subject coordinator for agriculture Les Perkins said the secret to their success was in nurturing the plant at every stage.

"The secret really is, making sure that the plant has all its need, and we actually maximise its need for nitric acid and we also give it a good start with a good fertiliser-plant mix in the pot and we set up a dripper system so we water it about 4 times a day.

"Finally, at this time the birds have really homed in on the crop so we've netted it to try and keep the birds off.”

Mr Perkins added the competition was fun way for students to take an in-depth look at agricultural research.

"It shows them what's possible - they come here and they can see how we compare with the others and they feel pretty good about it.”