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People on the move in the grains and cropping sector

by Grain Central, 21 December 2018

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

  • Seed industry stalwart retires
  • WA’s Tony York elected to NFF board
  • Claus and Co appoints flying adviser
  • Northern reps for GrainGrowers
  • Farrer Memorial Medal award
  • National variety trials’ northern appointment
  • Deputy moves to Landcare chair
  • Southern NSW crop research leads
  • New AgriFutures advisory panel
  • Goulburn-Murray MDBA officer
  • Rural leadership put to the test
  • Growers join wheat discovery tour
  • Qld ag scientists named world’s best
  • Rural women ready to shine
  • RAS Rural Achievers ready to roll
  • Graham Centre grain graduates
  • NSW researcher accolades

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Nick Gardner

Seed industry stalwart retires

LONG-SERVING seed industry figure, Nick Gardner, is retiring after 45 years in the industry, a period during which major leaps in technology have resulted in significant changes internationally and in Australia.

Mr Gardner has worked in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia for various seed companies.

The former Pacific Seeds managing director has seen the commercialisation of agriculture influence important advances in technology, and revolutionise the processes involved in plant breeding and growing.

“When I first started, the speed of technology meant that people only expected to receive progress updates once a week, the industry of today expects updates every hour and for people to be accessible around the clock,” Mr Gardner said.

“The pace at which we do business has certainly increased, but it’s allowed us as a company to grow faster and into more countries than would have been possible at the beginning of my career.

“Technology innovation has also impacted greatly on the speed, efficiency and robustness of the plant breeding process, which for Pacific Seeds has meant a significant escalation in the scale of our operations.

“Constantly adapting to the increasing scale and investment that is required to grow a business in agriculture has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my career.

“It’s been exciting to see the groundwork I helped develop in these areas, pay off over the last few years, especially with our success overseas and in developing innovative genetic technology and   seed production processes.”

Pacific Seeds current managing director, Barry Croker, said Mr Gardner had been a steadfast figure at Pacific Seeds and was devoted to the industry.

“Nick has been a long respected and venerated member of the agricultural industry and his warm presence will be greatly missed, we wish him all the best and hope he enjoys retirement and upcoming travel plans.”

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WA’s Tony York elected to NFF board

WAFarmers general president Tony York was elected as a National Farmers Federation (NFF) Board member at the NFF’s Annual General Meeting in Canberra in November.

Tony York

The Western Australian farmer organisation said Mr York would be a strong voice for its members as well as the broader WA rural community.

“Tony’s passion for making a positive contribution to regional Western Australia and the agriculture sector has been evident throughout his role with WAFarmers and is something he will continue to deliver in his capacity of a NFF director.

“Tony will be an integral link between the west and the NFF over his term as a director and is privileged to have been given this opportunity.”

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Claus and Co appoints flying adviser

FORMER Australian agricultural pilot and specialist drone operator, Rudolph Deere, has been appointed consulting adviser to the Northern Hemisphere-based firm, S. Claus and Co.

Mr Deere will oversee the business’s flying activities, particularly its compliance with the raft of regulations governing the operation of drones and other non-conventional aerial craft.

This time last year Claus and Co’s principal and chief pilot was censured by Australia’s aviation governing body, CASA, for breaching regulations, particularly those relating to overflying public roadways, operating at night and landing on rooftops.

Mr Deere takes up his new position in time for the busy Christmas period.

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Northern reps for GrainGrowers

GRAINGROWERS has announced the successful candidates who have been elected to represent the northern region on GrainGrowers’ National Policy Group (NPG). The NPG is responsible for determining GrainGrowers’ policy agenda.

The northern region representatives are:

Kate Gunn

  • Luke Bradley, Springsure, Qld
  • Terry Fishpool, Tottenham, NSW
  • Ian Gourley, Narrabri, NSW
  • Kate Gunn, Curlewis, NSW
  • Tim Mooney, Moree, NSW

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Farrer Memorial Medal award

DR REG Lance has been awarded the Farrer Memorial Medal in recognition of his work in barley breeding and genetics.

NSW Department of Primary Industries deputy director general for agriculture, Kate Lorimer-Ward, presented the prestigious medal on behalf of the Trustees of the Farrer Memorial Trust.

“Dr Lance’s career has covered all aspects of improvements in yield, agronomic performance, malting and feed quality, plant pathology, and adaptation to abiotic stresses.

“Furthermore, his career has spanned across continents, universities and government departments, including USA and Denmark, University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, University of Adelaide and University of Queensland.

The Farrer Memorial Medal is awarded annually to commemorate William James Farrer, Australia’s leading wheat breeder, in recognition of distinguished service in agricultural science and contribution to Australia’s cropping industries.

As part of the award, the medallist delivers the Farrer Memorial Oration. Dr Lance’s oration, titled “Another Man’s Life with Barley”, touched on barley breeding and varieties, current research and future directions.

Farrer Trustee Michael Arnott, Farrer Memorial Medal winner Dr Reg Lance and DPI deputy director general Kate Lorimer-Ward.

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National variety trials’ northern appointment

THE Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has appointed Laurie Fitzgerald as its first National Variety Trials (NVT) officer for the north.

Mr Fitzgerald was formerly site operations lead and a senior research officer for DuPont Pioneer, and has worked in in plant breeding and crop research since the 1990s.

He is based in the GRDC’s Toowoomba, Qld, office.

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Deputy moves to Landcare chair

Stephanie Cameron

LANDCARE NSW has appointed deputy chair, Stephanie Cameron, as the organisation’s new chairperson, in what marks a significant transition for the peak representative body of Landcare in NSW.

Ms Cameron is a qualified scientist who comes to the role having been actively involved with Landcare in the Tamworth and North West region of NSW for many years.

She was a founding member of the Tamworth Urban Landcare Group, treasurer of the Tamworth Regional Landcare Association and has served on the Executive Landcare NSW Committee since 2014.

Ms Cameron has succeeded long-serving chair Robert Dulhunty who was a founding member of Landcare NSW in 2007 and has served as chair since 2012.

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Southern NSW crop research leads

JANELLE Jenkins and Craig Whiting have been appointed to lead the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) cropping research in southern NSW.

NSW DPI’s southern cropping director, Deb Slinger, said they would be based at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute (WWAI) where they would play leading roles in driving NSW DPI’s collaboration with the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

“As leader of crop genetics, Craig’s focus will be on projects in Wagga Wagga, Yanco and Condobolin,” she said.

“In her role leading agronomy and crop protection research, Janelle 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, the investigation of disease impacts and vectors in southern cereal and pulse crops will be a focus for these research teams.”

Ms Jenkins brings 23 years of experience in agricultural research and development to her new position, including roles with NSW DPI in southern and central areas of the state, Riverina Local Land Services and the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority.

Mr Whiting’s knowledge and skills have been developed over the years in managing agribusinesses, product research, development and commercialisation of agricultural chemicals and animal health products and working for farming operations across NSW and in the United Kingdom.

Craig Whiting and Janelle Jenkins

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New AgriFutures advisory panel

TEN expert leaders have been appointed to the newly established AgriFutures Emerging Industries Program Advisory Panel following a nation-wide search which resulted in over 110 applications.

AgriFutures Australia managing director, John Harvey, said the new Advisory Panel had been formed to identify and support the development of new and emerging rural industries.

“We’ve set an ambitious goal of identifying and supporting the emergence of agricultural industries that can reach or exceed a $10m per annum threshold in the next five years. The new Advisory Panel will be key to guiding our investment decisions and encouraging people developing these industries to ensure their future sustainability and profitability.”

Newly appointed panel chair Brian Ruddle, founder of Impact Innovation Group, said the panel was a creative, open minded team who will make a valuable contribution to the future of Australian agriculture.

The first major agenda item for the new panel will be reviewing applications from the recent expressions of interest for R&D priorities to consider for investment opportunities.

Advisory Panel members:

  • Brian Ruddle, chair (Impact Innovation Group)
  • Susan Wilson, deputy chair (Bounce Partners)
  • Angeline Achariya (Monash Food Innovation Centre)
  • William Taing (Beanstalk AgTech)
  • Christopher McLoghlin (Mycelia Organics)
  • Ian Smith (Office of Regional Economic Development NSW)
  • Mila Bristow (Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources)
  • Ann Ross (Hive Haven)
  • John Lever (Koorana Crocodile Farm)
  • Duncan Farquhar (AgriFutures Australia)

The newly appointed AgriFutures Emerging Industries Advisory Panel: Ian Smith, Mila Bristow, Susan Wilson (Deputy Chair), Chris McLoghlin, Duncan Farquhar, Angeline Achariya, Brian Ruddle (Chair), John Lever, William Taing and Ann Ross.

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Goulburn-Murray MDBA officer

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has appointed a new regional engagement officer to represent the Goulburn–Murray and ensure on-ground knowledge and experience is considered as part of the Basin Plan implementation.

MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde said farmer Josh Kirby would take on the role in early January, joining six other regional engagement officers who bring local expertise and insight to the MDBA.

Mr Kirby replaces former regional engagement officer Merrill Boyd, who has represented the Goulburn-Murray over the past two years.

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Rural leadership put to the test

COURSE 25 participants in the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) met in Toowoomba, Queensland, in November for media and personality training.

They have already been put through their paces at a two-week ‘challenge’ in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, and will be spending a week in Tasmania and two-weeks in Indonesia over coming months before graduating in October 2019.

“It is about providing us with experiences that put us outside our comfort zone to optimise our skill sets to make an impact and change across regional Australia,” ARLP participant and human resources manager for Mort and Co, Lauren McNally, said.

ARLP Course 25 participants, CBH trader, Dane Roberston, Perth, WA, Grain Producers SA chair, Wade Dabinett, Parilla, SA, and Mort and Co human resources manager, Lauren McNally, Toowoomba, Qld.

ARLP Course 25 participants Emma Jackson, Wolverton Station, Central Cape York, Qld, and irrigation farmer, Troy Mauger, Jerilderie, NSW.

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Growers join wheat discovery tour

SEVEN lucky grain farmers travelled to Sydney as the guests of GrainGrowers to an event celebrating National Agriculture Day on Wednesday, November 21.

The growers who live as far away as Badgingarra, two hours north of Perth, Western Australia, and Springsure, south of Emerald in central Queensland, came together for the chance to learn more about what their end customers want from Australian wheat.

They attended a hands-on milling and baking workshop at the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) in North Ryde, followed by a dinner hosted by GrainGrowers to give the growers a chance to network with GrainGrowers and AEGIC wheat quality and market experts.

The participants were:

Sophie Bradley

  • Tim Hayes, V & HA Hayes Pty Ltd – WA
  • Sophie Bradley, Wool-A-Roo Pty Ltd – Queensland
  • Patricia Schober, BS & PK Schober Enterprises – SA
  • Chris Moloney, Moloney Agribusiness – SA
  • Catherine and Matt Madden, Fairfield Farming – NSW
  • Libby Dowling, Dowling Brothers Yarrawonga – NSW

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Qld ag scientists named world’s best

THREE University of Queensland scientists have been named in the world’s top one per cent of most influential researchers for agricultural sciences in 2018.

Graeme Hammer

Crop modelling pioneer Professor Graeme Hammer; co-inventor of genomic selection Professor Ben Hayes; and leading plant hormone researcher Professor Christine Beveridge are named on the 2018 Highly Cited Researchers list.

Professor Hammer’s research interests are in the interactions of genetics, environment and management (G x E x M) in crop and climate modelling and plant breeding to support growers in making more informed choices about varieties and management. He works on the major cereal crops: sorghum, maize and wheat.

Professor Hayes is co-inventor of genomic selection and has extensive research experience in genetic improvement of livestock, crop, pasture and aquaculture species. His focus is on integration of genomic information into breeding programs, including the Northern Beef Genomics Project.

Control of plant development, is the key research area of Professor Christine Beveridge. Her work looks at understanding the role of plant hormones in the regulation and coordination of plant development, with a particular interest in shoot architecture in crop production and horticulture.

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Rural women ready to shine

SIXTY-FIVE women from rural New South Wales say they’re ready to make a difference in their communities after graduating from a new leadership and professional development course for the cotton and grains industries.

The Generating Regionally Outstanding Women (GROW) course provided by Tocal College and funded through the AgSkilled program is a professional development and leadership program for regional women.

A total of 104 participants completed the GROW program this year, and 65 of those women recently attended a graduation ceremony in Sydney to celebrate their achievements.

AgSkilled project officer Claudia Vicary said GROW was an important program for agriculture in NSW.

“The cotton and grains industries are committed to building diverse skillsets, strong businesses and healthy communities; through AgSkilled, that goal is being realised,” Ms Vicary said.

“The women that participated all have fascinating stories and outlooks on how we can build a stronger regional Australia, and I’m excited to see where these women end up. Likewise, I can’t wait to meet another group of passionate women when the GROW program runs again next year.”

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RAS Rural Achievers ready to roll

EIGHT rural-minded individuals from across NSW are preparing to step-up as the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) 2019 Rural Achievers.

The RAS Rural Achiever program, which recognises young people aged between 20 and 29, aims to foster advocacy in driven individuals, providing unique networking opportunities and the chance to represent NSW at the National Rural Ambassador Competition.

The 2019 RAS Rural Achievers are:

  • Rayali Banerjee, Epping
  • Denbigh Burrows, Wagga Wagga
  • Samuel Bush, Cootamundra
  • James Cleaver, Nyngan
  • Samuel Johnson, Forbes
  • Katrina Nash, Toogong
  • Lachlan Patterson, Cowra
  • Rebecca Thistlethewaite, Narrabri

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Graham Centre grain graduates

THREE PhD students who have focused on grains industry research through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation are among those to have been recognised at this year’s Charles Sturt University (CSU) graduation ceremonies in Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Dr Rebecca Heim and research supervisor Associate Professor Gaye Kreb.

Dr Rebecca Heim was awarded a PhD for research investigating the nutritional and digestibility characteristics of canola meal. The research found refining oil-extraction techniques could improve the quality of Australian oilseed meals used as a supplement in feed for livestock.

Dr Nirodha Weeraratne’s PhD focused on a bacterium responsible for sheath brown rot of rice and her research can be used to develop tools for quarantine and to breed disease resistant wheat and rice.

Dr Kyah Hester’s PhD titled ‘Gluten avoidance – trendy food fad, or insight into complex psycho-physiological interactions?’ helps to identify the drivers of non-prescribed gluten avoidance.

“Up to 20 per cent of the population is estimated to take part in gluten avoidance behaviours, far exceeding the number of people with gluten-related disorders such as coeliac disease,” Dr Hester said.

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NSW researcher accolades

TWO NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) leading researchers have earned the distinct honour of being named a 2018 Highly Cited Researcher.

Lukas Van Zwieten and Annette Cowie have been recognised amongst other exceptional scientists from around the world on the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list.

Mr Van Zwieten holds the position of Adjunct Professor in Southern Cross Plant Science and is a member of Soil Science Australia, and has published over 100 papers and book chapters and has over 8000 citations.

His research focuses on soil processes including C and N cycling, and how these relate to greenhouse gas emissions; contaminants in the soil environment; and unravelling microbial, rhizosphere and soil chemical processes.

Ms Cowie has a background in soil science and plant nutrition, with particular interest in sustainable resource management. Her recent research focuses on quantifying and managing climate effects of agriculture and forestry, including through bioenergy, biochar and soil carbon management.

She is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Environmental and Rural Science at the University of New England, and leads the International Energy Agency Bioenergy research network “Climate Change Effects of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems”.

Her research has been applied in development of climate change policy for the land sector, including greenhouse gas accounting for inventory and emissions trading, and in international initiatives to address land degradation.

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