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    COLLABORATION: Longerenong College students, from left, Megan Clothier, Darcy Geruasoni, Isabella Grace and Matthew McLaughlin, with teacher Nick Wachsmann, will join a WIM Resource Avonbank mineral- sands mine research project at Dooen. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Longy students join mine research project at Dooen


A proposed mineral-sands mine in its early development phase north of Horsham is providing agriculture students an opportunity to learn about the impacts of mining and rehabilitation on soil and crop growth. 

WIM Resource, which has recently rehabilitated a test pit at an Avonbank Project near Dooen, and Longerenong College have formed a research partnership for students studying an advanced diploma of agribusiness management. 

The partnership is part of the mining company’s plans to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of mining and the completed rehabilitation on key soil attributes.

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Students studying a ‘Conduct a Research Trial’ subject at the college will research the impact of mining and rehabilitation at the mine’s Avonbank test pit site.

College teacher Nick Wachsmann, who was directing the students on the project, said the students visited the test pit during the rehabilitation of the site completed earlier this month. 

“Students will learn how to do top-soil mapping with a drone and how to use that newer technology,” he said. 

“They also get to learn a bit about agronomy, including investigating soil health, monitoring crop development in its growth stages, conducting soil tests and plant tissue analysis.” 

Mr Wachsmann said the research trial would link into the college’s DATA Farm Innovation Centre. 

The centre, designed to provide a training hub for future professionals working in agricultural technology, opened late last year.  

“This project is great timing with the opening of our DATA farm. There’s a number of tools we acquired through that, such as the top-soil mapper, we will be able to use to help monitor crop growth,” he said. 

WIM Resource chief executive Eddy Wu signed a memorandum of understanding with college principal John Goldsmith and students to enable the project to run for three years. 

“I’ve been teaching this research subject for quite a while and this project offers students something completely new,” Mr Wachsmann said. 

“It’s also a great chance for students to make some contacts in the industry. 

“This first year is a pilot year to review how this research trial will work and then there is opportunity to extend that beyond three years.

“This project will allow the students to think more about how to conduct their own on-farm trials.” 

WIM Resource projects director Michael Winternitz said the partnership with Longerenong College was part of a collaboration tackling a ‘bigger issue’ of ensuring broadacre farming and mineral-sands mining could co-exist. 

“WIM looks forward to this exciting partnership with Longerenong College and collaborating with the next generation of farmers, and indeed a very well respected college,” he said. 

“Mineral sands and farming are fundamental to the economy and this partnership recognises WIM’s commitment to rehabilitation of mined land.” 

The entire March 31, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire March 31, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!