Competition for places at WA's leading agricultural college at Cunderdin remains strong despite the hardship being experienced in some farming areas.

More than 60 students from across the state have already been interviewed at WA College of Agriculture - Cunderdin for places in year 11 next year and late applications are still being received.

Principal Bernard Beatty said the range of courses and their recognition at state and  national level meant there was continuing strong demand for enrolments at the college. "We work hard to ensure that the courses we offer are relevant and we have a dedicated staff with appropriate qualifications to deliver them," he said.

"Furthermore, we have an ongoing program to upgrade facilities and equipment to keep pace with changes in technology and community expectations."We recently completed a major upgrade of student accommodation and services and are about to call tenders for a $3.6million extension to the trade training centre," Mr Beatty said.

"This work will increase the existing work space by about 40% for the benefit of trade courses in furniture, general construction, automotive and engineering. "The existing tennis courts are also being reconstructed as a multipurpose playing area with a synthetic surface to suit tennis and a range of other sports," he said.

Meanwhile, the college is gearing up for its cropping program. Students under staff supervision are topdressing fertilizer ready to start sowing lupins in the next few weeks.
College farm manager, Brett Cox, said this year's cropping program would include 482 hectares of wheat, 130 of barley, 82 of lupins, 77 canola and 40 hectares of oats. "Students are involved directly in all aspects of the seeding process using industry standard machinery and equipment including a late model New Holland four wheel drive tractor with auto steer and a John Deere air seeder," Mr Cox said.

"Involvement in all aspects of the cropping program during their time at the college means a good number will complete a Certificate II in Cropping before they leave. "Our year 12 students do the bulk of the seeding while the year 11's do the harvesting," he said.

"The college shearing program was completed recently. "This is done by the students under the watchful eye of technical officer, Wayne Laird. "We had assistance from trainers at the CY O’Connor Institute who helped the students enhance their skills. "The partnership was funded by the Australian Wool Industry from grower levies," Mr Cox said.

Mr Beatty said practical aspects of farming were supported by the WACE courses, plant and animal production systems as well as English and mathematics in the classroom.

Lindsay McNeill

ABOVE: Studying the reproductive tract of a ewe in an animal production systems class  (L-R) Jess Hammond from Beverley, Matthew Flint (Northam), teacher - Shae Bruce (Quairading) and Matthew Lane (Wongan Hills).