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‘Despite coming from a tillage background, my absolute favourite thing to do is to milk cows’

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after my Leaving Certificate as not that many courses interested me.”

“I always enjoyed ag science in secondary school, so after hours of looking through college courses and visiting the school’s guidance councillor, I just went with ag.”

Those are the words of Waterford Institute of Technology student, Emily Gowing, who is studying a BSc in Agriculture.

Many may be under the impression that this was a natural progression for the 20-year-old, who grew up on a tillage enterprise, owned by her father and grandfather, in Shaen, just outside Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

“The crops grown on my home farm are winter and spring barley and sugar beet,” she explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.

“Sugar beet is quite interesting as not that many people in Ireland are still growing it. I would love to carry out some research work on sugar beet.”

“Harvesting beet is my favourite thing as it’s a less stressful harvest than the challenges of barley harvests with moisture levels and good weather requirements.”

“Despite coming from a tillage background, my favourite thing to do is to milk cows,” added Emily, who works for Grove Field LTD, owned by her uncle, Bernard.

Placement in New Zealand

A placement module, which she completed as part of her undergraduate studies, took the Laois native to the North Island outside Palmerston North in New Zealand in January of this year.

Here, she milked 350 spring cows and 120 winter cows in a 30-unit herringbone parlour; cows were on a once-a-day milking system all-year-round.

“The modules vary from business-type studies such as farm accounts and ag in the economy to more science-based modules like animal and plant biology, as well as tillage, mechanisation, dairy, beef and sheep studies.”

“What intrigued me the most about doing an agricultural-based course was the wide variety of jobs available after college. Before, I thought you only did ag to be a farmer,” added Emily, who returned to her home soil in June.

“What I like about Waterford’ IT’s courses is you don’t have to pick a particular sector. You get to study a wide variety of farming sectors along with science and business-based modules.”

Women in ag

“Personally, I think the old fashioned view of farming been a man’s job still exists in Ireland, particularly around operating machinery, but I also think the positive outweighs the negative.”

“Women are getting the recognition they deserve in agriculture. I believe women are treated equally to male counterparts nowadays and most employers and people don’t care if a man or woman is doing the work once it’s done right.”

“Farming can be very rewarding work – No two days are the same and it’s refreshing to work outdoors,” Emily added.


Looking ahead, Emily hopes to further her studies by completing the add-on year with a view to graduating in 2022 with a BSc Honours in Land Management in Agriculture. 

“After that, I’d love to do a master or go do a master’s in education to become a secondary school ag science teacher.”

“When we were in New Zealand our plan was to stop and travel around Australia when making our way back home, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to, so I would love to go back.”  “America, the Highland Show and Agritechnica are all on my bucket list!”

 “I believe the future of agriculture is very bright. Interest in the sector is very strong among the younger generation.”

“The point for all agriculture courses remains high each year. Now with more education and technology, things are only getting better.” the ag science student concluded.

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