Larissa Holland is one woman in the cotton industry who "breaks the bias" every day she heads off to work as an agronomist advising farmers in the field.
Larissa, who wasn’t born into farming, is fast becoming one of Cotton Seed Distributor’s (CSD) most respected and trusted Extension and Development Agronomists. Based in Dalby on the Darling Downs in Queensland, Larissa believes International Women's Day is a global celebration of women from all industries and cultural backgrounds.
In addition, Larissa is the secretary for the Darling Downs Cotton Growers Association, a role that’s allowed her to step out of her comfort zone, learn more about the industry and network with like minded people.
Larissa has discovered that you don’t need to have grown up on a farm to be involved in the cotton industry, and gender doesn’t matter.
“CSD took me on when I was fresh out of university, and I haven't experienced any kind of bias because I am a woman. They looked at me and saw someone interested in the E&D agronomy path and gave me a start,” Larissa said.
Larissa studied a Bachelor of Environmental Science at the University of Newcastle, but it was her seasonal job at a laboratory where she found her passion for the outdoors and farming.
She added a graduate certificate in agriculture to her name, which led to a junior role in the E&D team program with CSD on the Darling Downs.
Just over 12 months ago, Larissa finished the program and became a qualified E&D agronomist.
“I love that there’s a mix of tasks and that I’m part of a diverse team,” Larissa said.
“Some days I can be out in the crop with the farmers, then back in the office where I’m working on the data and analytics.”
At present, Larissa oversees 11 cotton trials, designed to test different varieties of cotton under different conditions. Some are straight-forward single trials, others involve up to five varieties that are compared to see if there’s any regional specific or management styles that may favour one or the other
“Farmers are mindful of what they are doing on-farm, because in many cases they are wanting to pass it along to the next generation,” Larissa said.
“There’s a huge sustainability drive, which sometimes can be overlooked because of the industry’s history – like women’s role in society. I'd like to think that by doing this kind of work, women like me are changing our place in history," she said.”