An agronomist an economist from Australia
William is from Australia where he grew up on a farm (sadly without sugar beets as there are none in Australia). He has a BSc in Agricultural science and BSc. in Commerce. William worked in livestock industries as an economist before moving to Sweden in 2009. In Sweden, he started working with field trials for Hushållningsällskapet Skåne. And that was where he was working when his current project popped up.Among surprising beets and crashed drones
Have you had any surprising results?
– Numerous, thankfully! Sugar beets grown on soil heavily treated with lime store much better but show no difference in mechanical properties. Another was that according to my model, air flow within a sugar beet pile seems to be much less than I thought.
– On a more personal level, it’s been really fun pulling research from all over together with my own field work. This includes research from the USA in the 1950s, the UK in the 90s, current day Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, from energy sciences, from non-peer reviewed research by NBR, and from other plants such as apples and potatoes.
Finding a way into a pile of sugar beets
Has there been any problems in the project?
– Nothing terminal. A few things have changed along the way, as alternative questions were found to be more important. It has been a challenge to build the model I am working with now owing to no background in the program and language used.
– I’m trying to look inside piles of sugar beets, so I’ve had to get a bit creative to find my way in, and there a trail of failed attempts. In addition, I have crashed a couple of drones…
Who will benefit from your research?
– I hope that my results will be useful to the sugar beet farmers of Sweden and Denmark. But also other farmers around Europe and the world where sugar beets are stored post-harvest in on-farm piles. Plus, particularly given one of my papers is a method paper, other researchers.
A surprised but very excited sugar beet researcher
– I’m not sure if I ever said yes to the position. I was a little apprehensive around my qualifications given that I had never done research on sugar beets or post-harvest, but I didn’t say no. And it was the best non-answer I’ve ever given! I don’t think that I’m the most knowledgeable person in the world about the behaviour of sugar beets post-harvest, but I’m working on it and I’m possibly now the most excited by this topic.
– Being an industrial doctoral student takes a little extra from the admin side of things, and in managing expectations of others, but has so many benefits that far outweigh these costs. I really like the backing of industry, having access to research resources (equipment, collaborations, money, thinkers) double and getting insight into different ways of being a researcher.
What are you up to when you are not working?
– To quote one of my favourite bands (and largely thanks to covid), life is a little ”From A to B, to A to Bed. Wake up at A.” But I’m very grateful that B is not my kitchen table and that the second A includes picking up my daughter from day care and having two hours to just hang out with her. Weekends usually include a bit of something else, like a trip out of town or Australian rules football.
– After my doctoral thesis is finished, I hope is to continue with my employer as a researcher, but to diversify beyond just post-harvest, concludes William.