People on the move

People on the move in the grain and cropping industry

Grain Central November 19, 2021

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

  • Incitec Pivot strengthens agronomy support
  • Future Farmers Network appoints CEO
  • Two new appointments to Birchip Cropping
  • ‘Doogs’ signs off
  • Growth Grain gets started
  • CropLife Australia leadership team announced
  • GPA southern region director vacancy
  • Hart leaves Riverine Plains
  • AGT adds experience to executive team
  • Rhodes to step down as GPSA CEO
  • New directors for irrigators council
  • New CEO for Grower Group Alliance
  • Greenville appointed ABARES executive director
  • Martin to head AusAgritech
  • New GGA staff on board
  • Heard heads BASF Australia’s Seeds & Traits
  • New RAA Board members appointed
  • VGIP fellowships awarded
  • Wimmera tech named JD Technician of the Year

James Stewart takes up a new role as training and development manager, responsible for delivering IPF’s Agronomy in Practice training program.

Incitec Pivot strengthens agronomy support

INCITEC Pivot Fertilisers (IPF) is strengthening its agronomy team with the appointment of a number of new specialists that IPF director of agronomy and ideation, Jan Edwards, says will add more depth to the agronomy team.

Dave McRae

The new appointments include two new technical agronomists in NSW, Clint Sheather and David McRae.

Mr Sheather is serving customers in southern NSW following several years as an agronomist at Nutrien Ag at Parkes, while Mr McRae is based at Tamworth in the state’s north west.

Mr McRae joined IPF after 12 years at Yara Australia where he was Agronomy and Crop Solutions manager.

Mr Sheather and Mr McRae are expanding the work of Jim Laycock, who continues as senior technical agronomist on the Central Western slopes and plains and managing IPF’s trial work at the company’s long-term trial site at Grenfell.

Meanwhile, James Stewart takes up a new role as training and development manager, responsible for delivering IPF’s Agronomy in Practice training program.

He takes over from Nigel Bodinnar who continues as agronomy systems manager to focus on a major software project driving the company’s nutrient recommendations.

In another development, Rick Breakwell is the new marketing manager for Nutrient Advantage, IPF’s soil, water and tissue testing service.


Future Farmers Network appoints CEO

THE Future Farmers Network (FFN) has appointed Adele Laughton as its chief executive officer.

Adele Laughton

“Adele brings a diverse skillset to FFN that will assist with maintaining our current activities as well as providing new avenues for growth for our network, we’re really excited to welcome Adele to the role,” FFN chair, Richard Kohne, said.

Ms Laughton has extensive experience in business development and a demonstrated history working in the agribusiness and FMCG sectors, most recently leading an agribusiness market accelerator program and holding the position of national relationship manager for the Food Agribusiness Network on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.


Two new appointments to Birchip Cropping

THE Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) in Victoria has welcomed two new members to its board: Kaniva grain grower Jonathan Dyer and Rupanyup cropping and sheep farmer Kayla Weidemann. They were each elected for a three-year term.

At the organisation’s annual general meeting, BCG chair John Ferrier renominated for a three-year term as did Horsham grain grower Tim Rethus and Stefano Di Pieri from Mildura.

Former BCG chair and long-term board member Caroline Welsh, who has served on the board for 14 years, did not renominate.

Lawloit grain and sheep farmer, Alan Bennett, stepped down from the BCG Board earlier this year.


‘Doogs’ signs off

ONE of Toowoomba’s best-known grain traders, Rob “Doogs” MacDougall, has retired.

Rob “Doogs” MacDougall

Mr MacDougall has been a merchant with CHS Broadbent for 10 years, and finished up at the end of last month.

Prior to that, Mr MacDougall had a long career with Cargill, and was also the president of the Queensland Produce, Seed and Grain Merchants Association from 2001 to 2003.

“His wit, knowledge and overall ‘good bloke’ personality will be missed by growers and the industry throughout broader Queensland and northern NSW,” CHS Broadbent said in a statement.

Bobbi Ryan joined the CHS Broadbent team as a trader in Toowoomba last year, and has stepped up into the merchant role.


Growth Grain gets started

GROWTH Grain Services (GGS) has been established by Jack Zacker to provide consultancy and brokerage services to growers.

Based in Adelaide, Mr Zacker was formerly a wheat trader with ADM, and previously worked in logistics for ABB Grain and Viterra.

“I’ve set up GGS because ultimately after years working in the industry I have a good understanding on how everything works from pricing, though to the supply chain and this knowledge can be passed on to assist growers in making better decisions with their grain,” Mr Zacker said.

He said increased competition in South Australia’s export and domestic market was giving growers more choices.

“Competition is king and, if supported, leads to higher prices for growers in the long term.”


CropLife Australia leadership team announced

NATIONAL peak industry organisation for Australia’s plant science sector, CropLife Australia, has announced its leadership team for 2021-22 following its Annual General Meeting.

Country head and managing director (Australia and New Zealand) for Syngenta, Paul Luxton will continue as president of the organisation.

Mr Luxton’s sixth term as president sees him joined on CropLife’s executive by fellow industry leaders:

  • Damien Ryan, managing director, Sipcam Pacific Australia as vice president (Crop Protection and Stewardship)
  • Joerg Ellmanns, managing director, Bayer Crop Science as vice president (Crop Biotechnology)
  • Gavin Jackson, head of agricultural solutions (Australia and New Zealand), BASF Australia as chair of the Corporate Governance Committee

In addition to the executive, the following will serve as directors on the CropLife Australia Board for 2021-22:

  • Kristina Hermanson, managing director ANZ and ASEAN, FMC Australasia Pty Ltd
  • Darrin Hines, chief executive officer, ADAMA Australia
  • Rob Kaan, managing director Australia/NZ/Japan/Korea, Corteva Agriscience
  • Peter O’Keeffe, commercial general manager, Nufarm Australia Limited
  • Brett Ryan, managing director, Sumitomo Chemical Australia Pty Limited

CropLife Australia’s management team is led by chief executive Officer, Matthew Cossey.


GPA southern region director vacancy

SOUTH Australian farmer, Steve Ball, has stepped down from the Board of national grain grower advocacy group, Grain Producers Australia (GPA), due to recent changes with the expansion of his family farm business.

GPA chair, Barry Large, said Mr Ball had been a strong advocate, representing and serving growers, over the past six years as southern region director.


Hart leaves Riverine Plains

AFTER 18 years of service to Riverine Plains, Fiona Hart has stood down as chief operating officer to pursue a new career opportunity.

Ms Hart was recently awarded a Riverine Plains life membership – the first ever presented by the group.

Riverine Plains chairman, Ian Trevethan, said Ms Hart’s name had become inexorably linked with Riverine Plains and her departure marked the end of an era.

“I’d like to acknowledge and thank Fiona for the huge contribution she’s made to the organisation over such an extended length of time,” Mr Trevethan said.

Ms Hart was originally employed in 2003 to help manage the group’s activities and develop its scope as a farming systems group.

As the group grew, so did her role, which evolved from administrator to executive officer and then to chief operating officer.

Riverine Plains Inc is an independent farming systems group specialising in farmer driven research and extension across north-east Victoria and southern New South Wales.

Riverine Plains chairman Ian Trevethan and departing chief operating officer, Fiona Hart.


AGT adds experience to executive team

FIELD crop breeder Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) has announced the appointment of two new members to its leadership team based at Roseworthy in South Australia.

Richard Tyson will join the company as chief financial officer and Zsolt Szilassy will take up a new role overseeing customer interactions.

Both appointees have extensive experience supporting agriculture through their previous positions.

Mr Tyson is a qualified chartered accountant who has specialised in commodity trading risk management (CTRM) system development, business processes and financial trading.

He brings 20 years of agriculture industry experience to AGT, mainly in the broadacre and cropping sectors.

He has most recently held finance, risk management and CTRM product owner roles with Archer Daniels Midland in the United States, as well as GrainCorp and Elders in Australia.

Mr Szilassy also has a strong background in the grain sector, having joined Viterra in 2008 where he held multiple roles in supply chain analysis, logistics and customer relations assisting the business and its customers realise their opportunities through deregulation.

His new role with AGT will focus on bringing the benefits of the company’s genetics and crop development work to farmers.


Rhodes to step down as GPSA CEO

GRAIN Producers SA has begun the search for a new chief executive officer following the resignation of current CEO Caroline Rhodes, who will leave the organisation in late 2021 to pursue other opportunities.

Speaking on behalf of the GPSA Board, chair Adrian McCabe paid tribute to Ms Rhodes’ service to the organisation since her appointment in April 2018.

“Caroline has transformed the organisation into a professional advocacy group, representing the interests of South Australian grain producers with distinction,” he said.

“We are well placed heading into the 2022 State Election, given the standing GPSA now has with all sides of politics.

“Her crowning achievement was leading GPSA’s advocacy to repeal the moratorium on GM crops across mainland South Australia after 16 years, with growers being able to access GM seed for the first time this year.

“This was a hard-fought campaign which secured bipartisan support and the backing of industry groups from across Australia.”

Caroline Rhodes


New directors for irrigators council

THE National Irrigators Council (NIC) has elected Steven Ford, Phillip Snowden and Rosalie Auricht as new directors on the Board.

Mr Ford is the general manager of Pioneer Valley Water in Queensland and takes on the Queensland representative role on the Board.

Ms Auricht is the general manager of Renmark Irrigation Trust in South Australia and is an irrigator and member of Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board water advisory committees.

Mr Snowden is a local farmer and chair of Murray Irrigation in New South Wales, a Fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

In addition, Mike Neville from Kilter Rural in Victoria and Jeremy Morton from the Ricegrowers Association of Australia in NSW have been re-elected to the NIC Board.

The following members join the existing team of directors:

  • Karen Hutchinson (Murrumbidgee Irrigation);
  • Jenny McLeod (Coleambally Irrigation);
  • Bernie George (Australian Food and Fibre);
  • Michael Murray (Cotton Australia);
  • Caren Martin (South Australian Murray Irrigators).

The new Board has re-elected Mr Morton as chair, Ms Hutchinson as deputy chair and Mr Murray as chief financial officer.

Retiring directors Gavin McMahon, Tim Napier, Dale Holliss and Toby Smith were thanked for their service to the Council.


New CEO for Grower Group Alliance

THE Grower Group Alliance (GGA) has been appointed Western Australian agriculture executive and general manager Rikki Foss to the position of chief executive officer

Ricki Foss

GGA chair Peter Roberts said Ms Foss brought excellent skills and experience to the GGA at an exciting stage of its growth.

“She takes on the CEO role from Niki Curtis, who has done an outstanding job guiding the organisation for the last year in an interim role, and the Board thanks her for her dedication and achievements.”

Ms Foss’ most recent role has been with WA-based grain accumulation and export business Plum Grove, where she has worked as a general manager and senior executive.

She has a rural background, and for several years has provided a grain consultancy role for her family’s broadacre grain and livestock operation in WA’s central grainbelt.

The GGA, which is in a $4.38 million four-year Collaboration Agreement with the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, has been focused on strengthening its innovative network of grower groups that connects strongly with industry.


Greenville appointed ABARES executive director

JARED Greenville has been appointed executive director of ABARES, the science and economics research division of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment Andrew Metcalfe said Dr Greenville would bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the role.

“Since acting in the role from early 2021, Dr Greenville has led the economic, scientific, forecasting and data-related work of ABARES, as well as overseeing changes in work practices, culture and data and analytics infrastructure,” Mr Metcalfe said.

“As executive director, he will ensure ABARES continues delivering world-class research, analysis and advice for stakeholders on significant issues affecting our agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.

“A key focus will be continuing to develop the bureau’s capability as an innovative and trusted provider of high-quality services and products—and making this information accessible and understandable.”

Prior to joining ABARES in 2018, Dr Greenville held senior roles at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) where he managed work related to agri-food trade policy, global value chains in agriculture and food security and risk.

He has also previously worked for the Productivity Commission on diverse issues ranging from Australia’s involvement in bilateral and regional trade agreements and domestic drought support policy to issues related to infrastructure policy and the challenges posed by an ageing population.

Dr Greenville has a PhD in agricultural and natural resource economics from the University of Sydney.


Martin to head AusAgritech

THE Australian Agritech Association (AusAgritech) has announced the appointment of Tracey Martin as chief executive officer.

Tracey Martin

Ms Martin brings over 20 years of experience in strategic policy development and execution and stakeholder engagement in various industries, as well as being an agricultural producer.

She has chaired international forums on financial policy in the EU, worked for APRA and the Bank of England/PRA and has a Masters from the London School of Economics in Diplomacy and International Strategy.

Ms Martin is also a Nuffield Scholar 2020 and a member of the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) Policy Council – also being the (CCA) representative to the National Farmers Federation Sustainable Development & Climate Change Committee.

AusAgritech chairman, Andrew Coppin, said Ms Martin’s appointment was a giant leap forward as the association embarked on its next growth phase.

“The appointment of our full-time CEO will turbocharge the association’s mission to build a world-class agritech sector that supports the achievement of the $100 billion national target for agriculture and the development of a $20 billion a year industry of technology exports and opportunities,” he said.


New GGA staff on board

THREE new staff have joined the Grower Group Alliance (GGA) supporting Western Australian grower groups.

Narrogin-based WA Department of Primary Industries and Research Development (DPIRD)-assigned staff member Alison Lacey has joined the GGA team as a project manager reporting to Mark Holland in the Program Brokering team.

Ms Lacey fills the space created when Tanya Kilminster moved into the Drought Hub team as knowledge broker. Sharon Keeler has also joined the Drought Hub as team assistant.

New chief executive officer Rikki Foss started on 15 November with a two-day handover from outgoing CEO Niki Curtis.


Heard heads BASF Australia’s Seeds & Traits

GAVIN Heard has been named the new head of BASF Australia’s Seeds & Traits business.

A BASF veteran, Mr Heard has more than 20 years’ experience with the company having worked in a range of commercial, technical, development and regulatory roles for BASF in Australia and abroad.

Head of BASF Agricultural Solutions, Australia & New Zealand, Gavin Jackson, said Mr Heard brought extensive experience and a track record of achievement leading the business’s product development over the past 10 years.

“Our seed business is in great shape at the moment. In addition to several class- leading varieties of Invigor canola, there is also the pending launch of the LibertyLink canola system, several new high yielding wheat varieties in the pipeline and the recent announcement of our IdeltisTM Hybrid wheat program,” Mr Jackson said.


New RAA Board members appointed

THE NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) a new chair, Andrew Rice, and director, Joanna Balcomb.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Deputy Director General – Infrastructure, Investment & Business Development Brett Fifield said the appointments came at an exciting time for the RAA. comes at an exciting time for the RAA.

“As NSW fights to recover from years of severe drought, catastrophic bushfires, ongoing impacts of COVID-19, widespread floods and a mouse plague, the role of the RAA in supporting regional communities is as important as ever,” Mr Fifield said.

Mr Rice is a mixed farming operator from Parkes; director of Agricultural and Management Services at ASPIRE Agri; a non-executive director and chairperson of the not-for-profit company Field Applied Research Australia Pty Ltd; and non-executive director, Central West Local Land Services.

Ms Balcomb is a mixed farming operator from Cudal; chief risk officer for First Choice Credit Union in Orange; and has experience as an independent RAA appeals panel member for both bushfires and floods.


VGIP fellowships awarded

SIX PhD students have been awarded fellowships to help with research as part of the Victorian Grains Innovation Partnership (VGIP) between Agriculture Victoria and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

The fellowships are part of the Centre for Agricultural Innovation (CAI), a joint initiative between Agriculture Victoria and The University of Melbourne.

The students will be working on areas of Profitable Pulse Crops and Bridging the Profitability Gap, and at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham.

Sachesh Silwal is evaluating the agronomic suitability of mungbeans to southern Australia by defining their phenology, water and nitrogen dynamics across a range of growing environments in Victoria;

Spencer Fan is undertaking an environmental analysis of potential effectiveness of different root ideotypes for different soil types for southern Australia environments using historical and future-predicted climate records;

Bhawana Bhattarai is investigating the effects of storage strategies on grain quality to identify best storage practices and enable growers to better maintain grain quality and value prior to sale;

Keshia Savage is examining the relationship between soil physicochemical properties and the response of grain crops to different management interventions on a 3D spatial scale using controlled-environment and field research and a range of soil and crop-sensing technologies;

Amit Adhakari is developing and assessing the potential of new management strategies designed to improve the capture and utilisation of rainfall by grain crops in future climates;

Danielle Yidan Tang is investigating the use of sensor technologies to determine grain quality prior to harvest.


Wimmera tech named JD Technician of the Year

HORSHAM’s Josh Carter has been named the Australian Ag and Turf Service Technician of the Year at the inaugural John Deere Technician Awards.

Josh Carter

The dual-tradesman and father-of-two, who has worked for Emmetts in the Wimmera region for 15 years, rose to the top of a competitive field of 110 nominations of construction, forestry and agriculture technicians from across Australia and New Zealand to take out the new title.

Other winners of the inaugural awards include:

  • Construction & Forestry Service Technician of the Year, Brendan Wilkinson, RDO Equipment, Derrimut, Vic
  • Parts Technician of the Year, Troy McMahon, RDO Equipment, Launceston, Tas
  • Service Apprentice of the Year, Mackenzie Riddle, Hutcheon & Pearce, Temora, NSW
  • Parts Apprentice of the Year, Caleb Dover, Midland Tractors, Latrobe, Vic

The Awards were established in 2021 to champion the skill and dedication of the high-performing techs who not only provide vital backup support to customers, but also help to ensure operators achieve best possible performance from their machinery.

Technicians were nominated by their dealerships, with input from customers, and were judged on their mechanical and technical expertise, as well as their previous accomplishments in the field or on the job.



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