People on the move

People on the move in the grain and cropping sector

Grain Central, May 15, 2020

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.

  • New leader to steer cropping research
  • New Barley Australia head
  • Walters heads Peninsula Ports
  • Fazzino joins Rabobank board
  • Namoi director resigns
  • New recruit for WA wheat program
  • Gale appointed to ACCC Ag committee
  • Coleman wins milling award
  • Stock feed award winners
  • Western grower director vacancies
  • Fletcher new GM at Corson Maize
  • Building capacity of young northern crop researchers
  • Southern young crop researchers hone skills

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Andrew Carmichael has been appointed to lead cropping research in southern NSW.

New leader to steer cropping research

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) southern cropping director, Deb Slinger, has announced the appointment of Andrew Carmichael to lead cropping research in southern NSW.

Mr Carmichael has been acting in the position since October 2019.

“Farmers in NSW’s southern cropping region are set to benefit from research and development activities, which Mr Carmichael will help deliver as leader of our Agronomy and Crop Protection teams,” Ms Slinger said.

“Based at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute (WWAI), Andrew will play a major role in driving NSW DPI’s collaboration with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

“In leading agronomy and crop protection research, Andrew will support a team of pathology and entomology researchers and research agronomists at WWAI who are investigating production solutions for cereal, oil seed and pulse producers.

“Time of sowing, crop variety selection, agronomic support packages and the investigation of disease impacts and vectors in southern cereal and pulse crops are important areas of research for the teams.”

Mr Carmichael has a strong agricultural background with broad industry experience as a sixth-generation farmer, adviser and farm business consultant.

He has had hands on experience with the Climate Champion Program, the GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Network group and NSW Rural Assistance Authority Committee.

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New Barley Australia head

THE Board of Barley Australia has appointed Elysia Vassos to the role of executive manager, taking over from Ralph Nischwitz who was in the position for just over two years.

Ms Vassos joins Barley Australia with an impressive background of 20 years working for the University of Adelaide.

She commenced her time at the University in the Barley Breeding Program where she worked for eight years.

Most recently she has been working with the Genetics Analysis and Molecular Breeding Laboratory where she had the role of delivering molecular markers to breeders and pre-breeders, specifically targeting areas of improved resistance to biotic stresses both in barley and wheat.

At Barley Australia, one of the primary focuses of the role will be managing the Malting Barley Accreditation Program.

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Walters heads Peninsula Ports

SOUTH Australian engineer Greg Walters has been appointed chief executive officer of Peninsula Ports, the company behind the proposed $200 million specialist grain port at Port Spencer on Eyre Peninsula.

Greg Walters

Mr Walters is a former principal of global consulting, engineering and project-delivery firm Sinclair Knight Merz.  He has also been national technical manager at Frazer-Nash engineering consultants and is a former board member of Engineers Australia.

Peninsula Ports chairman John Crosby said the company was fortunate to have secured the services of Mr Walters as the project pivoted from the planning phase to delivery.

“Mr Walters has extensive experience building client-focussed businesses and leading multidisciplinary teams, skills that will prove extremely valuable to the Port Spencer project as it comes to fruition,” Mr Crosby said.

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Fazzino joins Rabobank board

THE former chief executive officer and managing director of Incitec Pivot, James Fazzino, has joined Rabobank’s Australian board, filling a position vacated by retiring director Andy Borland, who has recently been appointed as chair of Rabobank New Zealand Limited.

James Fazzino

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank Australia chair Sir Henry van der Heyden said Mr Fazzino was a “highly-respected and experienced business leader, with a strong track record in the agricultural sector and wider business world”.

A Fellow of CPA Australia, Mr Fazzino served as chief financial officer at Incitec Pivot for six years before being appointed chief executive officer in 2009 – a position he held for eight years.

Mr Fazzino also sat on the Incitec Pivot board until 2017.

He is currently non-executive director of the APA Group, chair of Manufacturing Australia and Osteon Medical, and is Vice-Chancellor Fellow at La Trobe University.

In addition to chair Sir Henry van der Heyden, Mr Fazzino joins other directors of Rabobank Australia – Anne Brennan, Jillian Segal, Berry Marttin, Sander Pruijs, Geerten Battjes and Peter Knoblanche (CEO Rabobank Australia).

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Namoi director resigns

NAMOI Cotton Limited has announced the resignation of director, James Jackson, who was appointed to the Board on June 7, 2018.

Mr Jackson was chairman of the Nominations and Remuneration Committee and a member of the Financial Risk Committee and the Safety Committee.

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New recruit for WA wheat program

WHEAT breeding in Western Australia has received a boost with a molecular breeding expert from South Africa joining specialist seed breeding company LongReach Plant Breeders.

Scott Sydenham

Wheat breeder Dr Scott Sydenham (PhD, Molecular Breeding) has been recruited by the LongReach Plant Breeders team to provide his expertise in molecular breeding and said that his main drive was to help growers to navigate common issues like pests, diseases, and climate volatility.

“In South Africa I was a pre-breeder on multiple national projects, specialising in molecular breeding, so one part of my job with LongReach is applying my molecular marker expertise,” Dr Sydenham said.

“More or less, that translates into creating competitive varieties with resistance to specific diseases and pests while looking at ways to modify seed varieties to better handle periods of drought.”

LongReach, which is a joint venture between Pacific Seeds and Syngenta Australia, has research teams across the country but this will be its first breeder in WA.

“Along with product development officer Matu Peipi, here in WA I will be working on a national scale to lead certain trait introduction projects by targeting needed traits that complement the Australian environment,” Dr Sydenham said.

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Gale appointed to ACCC Ag committee

GRAIN Producers South Australia’s (GPSA) Shane Gale has been appointed to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Agriculture Consultative Committee (AgCC) as a representative of peak body Grain Producers Australia.

The AgCC provides advice and information to the ACCC on issues affecting the agriculture sector, and provides a forum where competition and consumer law concerns related to the agriculture sector can be considered and addressed.

Following concerns raised by the AgCC, the ACCC launched an enquiry focusing on warranties and protections for agricultural machinery, as these purchases frequently exceed the $40,000 threshold for protection under the Australian Consumer Law.

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Coleman wins milling award

RIDLEY AgriProducts feed-process engineer Molly Coleman has taken out the 2020 Australian Technical Millers’ Association (ATMA) Young Achiever Award.

Molly Coleman

Molly Coleman

She is the first woman, and the second person from the stockfeed sector, to receive the award, which has been given annually by ATMA and Buhler AG since 1992.

Ms Coleman’s honours thesis analysed the correlation between operating parameters of disc grinders and the resulting particle size.

Judges said Ms Coleman was a standout for her passion and forward thinking.

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Stock feed award winners

THE Stock Feed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia has announced the winners of the 2020 SFMCA Development Awards.

SFMCA chairman David Bray said the candidates had agriculture and the stock feed industry at the centre of their plans for the future, and each demonstrated a commitment to their business and the industry.

The winners are:

  • New South Wales, Sarah McClure, DSM Nutritional Products Australia product development and formulation technologist, Wagga Wagga.
  • Queensland, Samuel Haley, Darwalla Milling Company feedmill manager, Mt Cotton.
  • South Australia, Adam Schmidt, JT Johnson & Sons raw material and pellet quality coordinator, Kapunda.
  • Victoria/Tasmania, Elise Davine, Ridley Agriproducts lead pig nutritionist, Melbourne.
  • Western Australia, Henry Vaughan, Unigrain Pty Ltd Grain Accumulation & Stockfeed Pellets manager, Wagin.

The winners will have their attendance at the postponed 2020 Australasian Milling Conference, being held at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre 11 to 13 April 2021 paid for. Following the conference, they will then take part in a week-long study tour of the South East Queensland feed milling and livestock production industries.

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Western grower director vacancies

GRAINGROWERS is seeking applications for two Western Region grower director positions, taking in Western Australia and South Australia.

“It’s an exciting time for Australian growers. As a grower representative organisation, we are welcoming applications from farming women and men who are passionate about providing a strong voice for Australian growers,” GrainGrowers chairman, Brett Hosking, said.

Rod Birch

The Board of GrainGrowers comprises of six grower directors, two elected from each of three regions: Northern, Southern and Western and two independent directors.

GrainGrowers deputy chairman and one of two Western Region directors, Rod Birch, will be stepping down from the Board after the Annual General Meeting in September 2020.

“Rod’s experience and insights will be sorely missed. Rod will be leaving behind big shoes to fill and on behalf of my fellow Directors, I would like to acknowledge all Rod has done on behalf of growers and the organisation,” Mr Hosking said.

Director applications will be open throughout May 2020 and the executive search is being managed by Pacific Search Partners. Full details: graingrowers.com.au.

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Shawn Fletcher

Fletcher new GM at Corson Maize

SHAWN Fletcher has been appointed general manager Australia at Corson Maize Foods at Warwick in Queensland.

The New Zealand parent company bought the mill in 2003.

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Building capacity of young crop researchers

THE Tamworth Agricultural Institute in north west NSW will host three PhD scholarship candidates as part of the Grains Agronomy Pathology Partnership’s (GAPP) capacity building and skills development program.

The GAPP is a long-term partnership between NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC), focused on building research capacity in projects of importance to northern region growers.

DPI bilateral manager, Nicole Rice, said it was important to invest in young researchers to prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow.

“Central to the GAPP partnership is a focus on the development of capacity and skills to support innovative research which drives transformational changes of benefit to the industry,” Ms Rice said.

NSW DPI research officer in cereal pathology, Toni Petronaitis, commenced a Doctor of Philosophy through the GAPP PhD Scholarship and the University of New England in 2019.

She is investigating the epidemiology and management of winter cereal pathogens in the northern grains region.

“I have specifically focused on stubble-borne diseases such as crown rot and yellow spot because the pathogens responsible for each disease can survive in cereal stubble between cropping seasons. This makes the pathogens very difficult to control,” she said.

“I am investigating the interactions between these stubble-borne pathogens and current or emerging cropping practices, such as stubble management and harvest height options that may suit different grower’s needs.

“Another aspect of the project is quite innovative, where we are investigating a novel approach to control these pathogens in the field using microwave radiation.”

Previously with the Chickpea Breeding Program, NSW DPI research officer, Nicole Dron, commenced a Doctor of Philosophy through the GAPP PhD Scholarship program and the University of Adelaide in 2018.

Her research aims to improve Phytophthora root rot (PRR) resistance in chickpeas through breeding for waterlogging tolerance and will investigate short-term implications for assessing root health.

“My research has shown variability in root traits which have been previously associated with either waterlogging tolerance or disease resistance in other crops. Understanding these mechanisms allows us to combine the best forms of resistance whilst maintaining yield potential of future chickpea varieties,” Ms Dron said.

Mitch Buster is a third PhD candidate who will commence under this program in April.

Mr Buster will be investigating the potential to exploit root architecture to improve nitrogen and Fusarium crown rot management in high value winter cereal crops in the northern region.

NSW DPI Grains Agronomy Pathology Partnership Program PhD scholarship candidates Toni Petrinaitis, Mitch Busterand and Nicole Dron.

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Southern young crop researchers hone skills

AN initiative to identify talented young scientists and foster their research skills is yielding results for grain growers in southern NSW and Victoria.

NSW DPI southern cropping systems director, Deb Slinger, said NSW DPI graduate research officers, Jessica Simpson and Reuben Burrough, were now working with leading national researchers to hone their capacity to deliver solid results.

Reuben Burrough

“The Grains Agronomy & Pathology Partnership (GAPP) between NSW DPI and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is supporting a two-year intensive research and training program,” Ms Slinger said.

“Ms Simpson and Mr Burrough are mentored by NSW DPI lead researchers and collaborate with other leading researchers across the country.”

Based at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute, Ms Simpson is working to identify the key physiological drivers behind crop development and yield formation through a project which aims to deliver an improved model of late maturity alpha-amalyse field risk in Australian wheat.

Mr Burrough actively contributes to farming systems trials at the Condobolin Agricultural Research and Advisory Station and Yanco Agricultural Institute.

“I’m involved in field work, data collection and analysis which helps deliver a GAPP project which aims to improve farming systems efficiency in southern NSW,” he said.

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