People on the move

People on the move in the grain industry

Grain Central, March 15, 2023

John Woods and GRDC Seed of Gold winner Terry Enright. Photo: GRDC

Who is on the move in the Australian grain industry? Catch up with our latest update on industry appointments, rewards and achievements.

  • Seed of Gold for Enright
  • New Case IH Australia/New Zealand GM
  • Ireland joins AAM Investment Group
  • Chickpea expert wins Seed of Gold
  • Wheat geneticist wins Seed of Light
  • New agronomy society executive officer named
  • DAFF appoints chief environmental biosecurity officer
  • Seed of Light for Hobson
  • NGA leader to retire
  • RLF names carbon strategy leader   
  • Fanning gets emerging leader award
  • Rabobank adds economic strategist role
  • Awards recognise WA research excellence
  • CSIRO appoints chief digital officer
  • ABARES Science Award winners

Seed of Gold for Enright

Grains Australia chair and former Great Southern grain grower and livestock producer Terry Enright has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to the Australian grains industry, receiving the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Seed of Gold award. 

GRDC chair John Wood said Mr Enright has dedicated more than 40 years to the direction and management of agricultural research, including as chair of GRDC, the Australian Livestock Export Corporation, Grains Australia and AEGIC. 

Mr Enright’s connection with GRDC extends back to some of the organisation’s earliest years. He was appointed to the first Western Panel in 1993 and became panel chair in 1996, GRDC deputy chair in 1999 and chair from 2002-2007. 

As chair of Albany Port Authority from 1993 to 2003, Mr Enright presided over the $15-million port expansion to accommodate the expanding grain and woodchip industries of the Great Southern. 

In 2008, Mr Enright became the first grower to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of “Science in Agriculture” from The University of Western Australia. 

He has also held roles as chair of Wheat Quality Australia, the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council, LiveCorp and AEGIC, and commissioner of the Export Wheat Commission, as well as being on the boards of Grain Producers Australia and the Crawford Fund.

Case IH Australia/New Zealand general manager Aaron Bett. Photo: Case IH

New Case IH Australia/New Zealand GM

Case IH Australia/New Zealand has appointed Aaron Bett as its new general manager to lead the local team.

Currently the managing director for CNH Industrial Capital Australia/New Zealand, Mr Bett will take over from Pete McCann, who recently left the business.

Mr Bett joined CNH Industrial, Case IH’s parent company, six-and-a-half years ago and for more than three years has led CNH Industrial Capital ANZ.

CNH Industrial managing director, Australia/New Zealand, Brandon Stannett, said Mr Bett had been around agriculture all his life and had the expertise, experience and vision to lead Case IH into an exciting future.

Mr Bett said it was an exciting opportunity and a chance for a new challenge.

“I also look forward to bringing some new ideas to the table and working with our dealers, and our customers, on further strengthening the key pillars of the brand and ensuring Case IH continues to deliver the innovation, consultation, efficiency and productivity for which it’s renowned,” Mr Bett said.

Mr Bett grew up on a farm in Temora, and worked in agribusiness banking for more than 10 years before joining CNH Industrial.

He will take over as Case IH ANZ General Manager from April 4.

Ireland joins AAM Investment group

Agribusiness executive Cameron Ireland has been named the new executive general manager – originations of the AAM Investment Group.

This comes after Mr Ireland completed over three years in corporate and institutional customer solutions at Elders.

He was also the general manager of agricultural marketing company, Agrow Australia, for more than 20 years.

AAM is an Australian investment management group which operates investments across the agricultural, direct property and infrastructure investment classes.

Recipient of a GRDC Seed of Gold award Kevin Moore with GRDC Northern Panel deputy chair Roger Bolte. Photo: Melanie Jenson

Chickpea expert wins Seed of Gold

Renowned senior plant pathologist Kevin Moore received the 2023 Seed of Gold award for his work in crop protection at this year’s GRDC Grains Research Update in Goondiwindi. 

Dr Moore’s 55-year career in crop protection has had long-lasting effects on the grains industry, with his research outcomes and pulse disease-management strategies still being actively used by fellow researchers and growers to improve profitability. 

GRDC Northern panel chair Arthur Gearon said Dr Moore’s career and what he achieved during his time in the grains industry was famous among growers and researchers. 

Dr Moore’s pathology career officially kicked off in 1969 in cereals before he became heavily involved in chickpea breeding and adoption when Australia’s chickpea breeding program was established in Wagga Wagga during the 1980s. 

“It’s been an honour to have played a small role in establishing chickpeas as an option for Australian growers,” Dr Moore said.

Wheat geneticist wins Seed of Light

One of Australia’s leading research geneticists in wheat breeding, Greg Rebetzke, is this year’s recipient of the GRDC 2023 Western Region Seed of Light Award. 

GRDC Western Region panel chair Darrin Lee said that through the award, GRDC recognised those whose passion and commitment drives the success of the Australian grains industry. 

“Greg is an excellent communicator, helping growers understand the benefits in novel and new genetics, most recently long coleoptile, short season and high vigour varietal traits,” Mr Lee said. 

Originally from Brisbane, Dr Rebetzke credits his undergraduate degree at Queensland Agricultural College with instilling in him an appreciation for practical and applied knowledge. 

He refined his research skills through a Masters in Agricultural Science at the University of Queensland, before completing a PhD in Breeding and Genetics at North Carolina State University in the US. 

Dr Rebetzke has worked with CSIRO since 1995 and became a chief research scientist at CSIRO Agriculture and Food in 2017.

He is also an adjunct professor at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga and the University of Western Australia, Perth. 

New agronomy society executive officer

Sue Knights has commenced as the new executive officer of the Australian Society of Agronomy.

Sue Knights

Dr Knights has worked extensively in knowledge management and capacity building in the grains industry.

She brings prior experience in industry development and managing both national and international agricultural conferences to her role as executive officer. 

Society president and WA DPIRD chief scientist – primary industries development Ben Biddulph said Dr Knights’ appointment would complement a new team driving the society for the benefit of the industry. 

Dr Knights’ appointment follows the retirement of Linda Bennison after nearly eight years in the role which incorporated the testing time of running a conference during COVID-19.

Dr Biddulph thanked Linda for the guidance she provided the society over that time, and said its strong position was due in part to her dedication. 

The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agricultural scientists and agronomists, with its primary role to convene the biennial conference.

DAFF appoints chief environmental biosecurity officer 

The Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has appointed Bertie Hennecke as the nation’s new chief environmental biosecurity officer. 

The role is primarily about liaison between government, industry  and the community to raise awareness and build Australia’s capacity to manage biosecurity risks. 

Deputy secretary of biosecurity and compliance Chris Locke welcomed Dr Hennecke’s appointment saying he brought many years of knowledge and experience to the role. 

Dr Hennecke’s background is in natural-resource management, invasive species, and agricultural sciences, with 30 years of experience in the public service and academia in Australia.

He also holds a PhD in botany and a Masters in International Agriculture and has held senior leadership roles with ABARES and several of the department’s plant biosecurity areas. 

Dr Hennecke replaces Robyn Cleland in the role, who is now retiring. 

GRDC Seed of Light winner for the northern region Kristy Hobson, with GRDC Northern Panel deputy chair Roger Bolte. Photo: GRDC

Seed of Light for Hobson

Researcher Kristy Hobson has won the GRDC Northern Region Seed of Light award.

Dr Hobson is an established chickpea breeder for Chickpea Breeding Australia – a NSW DPI and GRDC collaboration, and has been involved in the industry since she took on a position as a junior breeder for the then Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, in Horsham in 2003. 

Since then, she has been significantly involved in introducing new chickpea varieties to the industry and working to expand their adaptability across new locations throughout Australia. 

GRDC Northern Panel chair Arthur Gearon said he was pleased to see Dr Hobson recognised for her dedication to the industry.

“Kristy’s work has made a huge impact on the adaptability of chickpeas across the entire country, and she’s been constantly acknowledged for her work in keeping growers informed on the advancements of new varieties,” Mr Gearon said. 

Dr Hobson said she felt extremely honoured to be awarded GRDC’s Seed of Light award and felt humbled to be among some of her career inspirations who have won the award before her. 

NGA leader to retire

Northern Grower Alliance CEO Richard Daniel has announced he will retire from the role after 17 years delivering practical research for grain growers across northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Richard Daniel

Mr Daniel said he will officially retire when the current three-year GRDC project investigating the agronomic management of weeds, crop nutrition and farming practices in northern NSW and southern Qld to maximise crop profitability finishes in June 2024. 

NGA was established in 2005 by a group of northern consultants and agronomists to provide regional, industry-driven, applied agronomic research into the challenges of grain production.

“Richard has given us all fair warning that it is time for him to swap protocols, trial reports and industry updates for the coast, or something equally relaxing,” GRDC senior regional manager – north, Gilliam Meppem said.

“GRDC as an organisation, and on behalf of northern grain growers, is indebted to Richard for the work he has done.”

RLF names carbon strategy leader  

RLF AgTech has announced the appointment of Raj Aggarwal as manager of carbon strategy and corporate development to assist in the development of RLF Carbon’s global strategy.

Mr Aggarwal is responsible for commercialising RLF AgTech’s Provisional Patent for A Methodology for Accumulating Carbon in Soils with a view to generating Australian Carbon Credit Units in the Australian grain industry at scale. 

He has over 18 years’ experience advising large corporates in the energy transition, decarbonisation, and carbon sequestration arena, including Macquarie Capital, Woodside Energy, Synergy and Select Carbon. 

“I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to help develop RLF Carbon’s rollout,” Mr Aggarwal said.

His advisory role will be to work with RLF and partners to develop the business model of RLF Carbon and assist with its implementation in order to generate ACCUs on a commercial scale in Australia and beyond.

“Raj’s wealth of tier-1 experience and his proven track record will be invaluable as we continue to provide services and products to farmers, helping to facilitate the transition to the new agricultural economy focused on increasing carbon in soil and decreasing nitrogen related output,” RLF AgTech’s managing director and CEO Ken Hancock said.

Fanning named emerging leader

Agriculture Victoria researcher Joshua Fanning has been awarded the GRDC 2023 Emerging Leader award for the Southern Region. 

Emerging Leader award winner Joshua Fanning and Southern Panel Chair Andrew Russell. Photo: GRDC.

In his 10 years with Agriculture Victoria, Dr Fanning has built significant research expertise studying pulse diseases, and has committed time and effort to communicate that knowledge to growers and other industry professionals. 

“Dr Fanning’s highly valuable mix of research expertise and the ability to communicate technical and scientific information in simple language is helping growers and agronomists rapidly respond to both the challenges and opportunities growing pulses present,” GRDC Southern Panel chair Andrew Russell said. 

Dr Fanning completed his bachelor degree and PhD at the University of Adelaide.

His disease research kicked off in his first job at Agriculture Victoria in 2013 managing a soil-borne disease program, focusing on root-lesion and cereal-cyst nematodes.

By 2018, Dr Fanning started a new role as a field-based pulse pathologist and, in 2022, he accepted a promotion to research leader – plant pathology overseeing the plant pathology team. 

Rabobank adds economic strategist role 

Finance provider Rabobank has appointed Ben Picton to the newly-created role of senior strategist, global economics and markets. 

Based in Sydney, the position will provide strategic macro-economic research and engagement – including interest rates and economic projections – for the specialist global agribusiness bank in Australia and New Zealand. 

Rabobank Australia & NZ regional manager Peter Knoblanche said it was the first time the bank’s global economics and markets research team would have “boots on the ground” in the region, with a locally-based role specifically covering macroeconomics for Australia and NZ. 

Mr Knoblanche said Mr Picton was a great fit for the role, having seven years of experience with Rabobank’s Global Financial Markets team, where he held a number of positions in derivatives sales and trading, working with the bank’s wholesale agribusiness and farming clients. 

Most recently, he was director, corporate risk and treasury management.

Mr Picton holds a combined Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Newcastle and a Master of Economics from the University of Sydney. 

GRDC western region award winners Jeremy Curry and Gaus Azam. Photo: WA DPIRD

Awards recognise WA research excellence

Two Western Australian grains researchers have been recognised for their contributions to the extension of research outcomes, receiving awards at the GRDC Grains Research Update – Perth.

WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development soil scientist Gaus Azam received the GRDC Recognising and Rewarding Excellence award for the Western Region. 

Esperance-based research scientist Jeremy Curry, also from DPIRD, was presented with the Emerging Leader award. 

“Gaus and Jeremy’s research and extension work is of an extremely high calibre,” GRDC Western Panel chair Darrin Lee said.

“They have made an outstanding industry contribution, not just from a research perspective, but in ensuring information is communicated effectively to growers and then applied on farm. 

A soil scientist with more than 15 years’ experience in Australia and overseas, Dr Azam is the lead researcher on project to define grain-yield potential in the absence of soil constraints.

The project focuses on 12 million hectares of arable land covering diverse soil types in the low to high-rainfall areas of WA, where subsoil compaction, subsoil acidity, sodicity and water repellence regularly occur in combination.

Mr Curry, an Esperance-based research scientist, was recognised for commitment, passion and leadership potential demonstrated by an individual in the Australian grains industry. 

Mr Curry joined DPIRD in 2015 and has since worked across several agronomy projects focusing on improving the yield and quality of wheat, barley and canola in WA. 

CSIRO appoints chief digital officer 

CSIRO has appointed Rebecca Ostergaard to the new role of chief digital officer, to lead how CSIRO will use digital to reimagine the way science is done and the digital experience for its people and partners.

Rebecca Ostergaard Photo: Simon King

CSIRO executive director – digital national facilities and collections, Elanor Huntington, welcomed Ms Ostergaard’s appointment.

“Rebecca is a skilled digital executive with wide experience leading digitisation across multiple sectors,” Professor Huntington said.

“She will lead our digital strategy, working with researchers across CSIRO to define and deliver the digital thread that runs through our Corporate Plan.”  

Ms Ostergaard brings 25 years of experience and has held several roles in digital leadership positions across respected universities and in the telecommunications sector. 

Most recently, she was digital services project director at the Office of Digital Government, within the Western Australian Government. 

She joined CSIRO on March 13 and is based in Perth. 

ABARES Science Award winners

ABARES has presented its 2023 Science and Innovation Awards in conjunction with the recent Outlook Conference.

The awards aim to encourage science, innovation and technology in rural industries and help to advance the careers of young scientists, researchers and innovators through national recognition of their research ideas.

The winners receive funding to undertake a project on an emerging scientific issue or innovative activity which will contribute to the success of Australia’s agriculture sector.

Nathan Cleasby from Living Water Aquaculture was awarded the ultimate honour with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Award for his project – Developing novel hatchery technology for the Australian Freshwater Crayfish industry.

Other award winners include:

  • Cong Vu: Boosting Drought Stress Tolerance in Cotton using Nanoparticle Technology;
  • Salome Wilson: Rapid validation of novel genes involved in plant disease;
  • Stephen Connaughton: Using machine learning with DXA as a technique to detect bones and virtually dissect lamb carcasses at chain speed;
  • Zenon Czenze: Determining the Economic Value of Insect Control by Bats in Vineyards;
  • Caitlin Evans: Preparing for a disease incursion: what threat do feral ungulates pose to the persistence of livestock diseases in Australia?;
  • Tristan Guillemin: Evaluating the effect of secondary predation when characterising the diet of large pelagic fishes;
  • Ashley Jones: Identifying the dynamic plant RNA modifications needed to combat myrtle rust;
  • Taylor Pini: The sperm-cervix interaction: A molecular investigation to improve cervical artificial insemination outcomes in sheep;
  • James Preston: Increasing the rate of genetic gain in clean fleece weight of sheep using corrected skin density measurements for allometric growth;
  • Laura Rood: The effects of pH on the shelf-life of vacuum-packed pork products;
  • Georgie Stephan: Deciphering molecular interactions between banana and fungal leaf pathogens using PacBio sequencing, AlphaFold and DeepFRI protein structure and function prediction.

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