Meet a floriculture researcher.
Emily Rigby—Cedar Hill Flowers & Foliage
I am employed by Cedar Hill Flowers & Foliage as a Research Scientist. The majority of my time is spent managing a project which involves propagation, cultivation, research, monitoring and reporting in the process of domesticating a premium Australian native cut foliage product. I also conduct research with the University of the Sunshine Coast and teach scientific research methods at the university.
In 2003 I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) at the University of the Sunshine Coast as I was in need of a new career path. Upon completing my degree I was employed as a postharvest research scientist at Cedar Hill Flowers & Foliage. I conducted research and development into new floricultural products and the improvement of postharvest life and procedures for current products. Later I was approached by my company to manage a project to domesticate a unique Australian native fern for the cut foliage industry. At that stage, the project was still in the early days of developing propagation methods and procedures to artificially cultivate the plant. A lot of research has been invested since into the project, leading to a new method of propagation.
Research and development is absolutely crucial for the development of new floricultural products and for optimising growing practices for the cultivation of such products. Without research, new, high-quality products cannot be developed. Improving growing practices improves the efficiency and productivity on the farm or in the greenhouse, which in turn increases the quality and quantity of product available and increases profit margins.
My job has a lot of variety, which I especially enjoy. Some days of the week I find myself out in the forests of South-east Queensland, others in the shade houses, and the remaining in the office. A day in the field involves early mornings in the forest and propagation of new cuttings for future plantations. Other duties include regular growth monitoring, sample preparation for nutrient analysis, IPM, fertiliser applications, foliage harvesting and innovative shade house design. A day in the office then involves data analysis, report writing, grant applications and keeping up-to-date with the latest research, as well as meetings within the company, with government agencies, industry and universities and attending conferences both nationally and internationally.
Early mornings in the forest can involve hard physical labour, as does planting and maintaining plants in cultivation. An in-depth understanding into plant biology, research design, statistical analysis and interpretation of monitoring data, grant application and report writing, and government frameworks and regulations is required.
I love my job. Not many people can say that. Working with floricultural products means I work with some of the most attractive plant species. My passion is for Australian natives and my company specialises in Australian native foliages. Artificial cultivation of this native fern has never been achieved before now, and for me that’s very exciting.