People on the move

People on the move in the grains and cropping sector

Neil Lyon, March 15, 2019

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.

  • Victorian grain chief sets agenda
  • New vision for WAFarmers
  • Callachor steps down from Namoi Cotton
  • New Incitec head
  • Cotton research’s new executive officer
  • New Heritage Seeds manager
  • FastStart cotton winners
  • New northern crop research leader
  • Jan Cathcart rice scholarship
  • Strategic grains research appointment
  • Grain’s leading ladies
  • Agricultural innovator award
  • Plant science award for women
  • Summer grains award nominations
  • Rabo business management programs
  • UWA communications officer
  • ‘Down under’ role for US Case manager

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Ashley Fraser

Victorian grain chief sets agenda

RUTHERGLEN grain producer and Baker Seed Company managing director, Ashley Fraser, has been appointed Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Grains Council president, replacing outgoing Warracknabeal grower, Ross Johns.

The 46-year-old joined the VFF Grains Council as a seed representative in 2013 and has been vice-president for the past two years.

Mr Fraser said it was shaping as another challenging year for Victorian growers with dry conditions prevailing across most of the state.

“A lot of places had summer storm activity before Christmas and there would still be some of that moisture in the ground, but not much,” he said.

“We will be needing rain, but there is nothing much in the forecast. We need it, but we can’t see where it is going to come from at the moment. That would be the biggest concern for grain growers in Victoria at the moment.”

Mr Fraser said the main issues he would address in his VFF role would be “the four Rs: roads, rates, rail and regulation”:

  • We need fit-for-purpose roads. Roads that are agricultural machinery friendly.
  • With rates, in Victoria we have a broken system that needs a complete overhaul.
  • The government made some commitments to upgrade the rail network in Victoria following the sale of the port. We will hold the government to account to honour their promises.
  • We will make sure regulation is workable and doesn’t impede market access.

He said farm safety was another big issue that would be a top priority.

“We are working towards zero-deaths-on-farms which is what we would love to see,” he said.

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New vision for WAFarmers

WAFarmers has a new president following yesterday’s annual general meeting at the WAFarmers Conference, Trending Ag 2019, in Perth.

Rhys Turton

Rhys Turton, who was elected by the membership for a two-year term, is a mixed grains, hay and sheep farmer from York. He replaces exiting president, Tony York.

Mr Turton has been involved with WAFarmers for over many years and is moving into the president role from senior vice president.

“WAFarmers has entered a period of re-invigorating the membership base and establishing a clear path to set the agenda ahead of the next Federal Election and Mr Turton brings a wealth of experience within the agricultural industry to the role of president,” WAFarmers chief executive officer Trevor Whittington said.

“The WA farming community is committed to high standards across all its practices and Mr Turton shares our common goal in increasing our presence in the public arena to firmly establish our place on the national agenda.

Mr Turton has extensive experience in leadership roles in the agricultural industry including current chairman of the Council of Grain Grower Organisations (COGGO) and current director at Grain Growers Limited.

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Callachor steps down from Namoi Cotton

Stuart Greenwood

STUART Greenwood has been appointed interim acting chief executive officer at Namoi Cotton following the resignation of Jeremy Callachor who has been a key figure in the cooperative for 26 years.

Prior to joining Namoi Cotton in 2001, Mr Greenwood held financial management positions within the cotton industry for CSD and Pursehouse Rural.

He was appointed Namoi’s chief financial officer in January 2008, overseeing all the financial, taxation, treasury and statutory reporting activities for the cooperative.

Mr Callachor was Namoi’s general manager – operations and human resources from January 2008 to November 2010, and was appointed chief executive officer in November 2010.

“The time is right for a new chief executive officer to take the reins at Namoi Cotton in the next phase of its operations and development and for me to focus on the next stage of my career,” he said.

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New Incitec head

RETURNING to Australia, after 17 years in Asia and eight years in the United Kingdom and Europe, Stephan Titze has taken up his new role at Incitec Pivot Fertilisers president.

Most recently, Mr Titze was the head of Asia Pacific for Netafim, an irrigation company which has a strong presence in Australia.

Over the preceding 14 years, he was Syngenta’s general manager in Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and was also involved in the company’s seeds business.

Stephan Titze

“Swiss by birth but Australian by choice, I was lucky enough to study horticulture technology, rural management and agricultural marketing at the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus in the 1980s,” Mr Titze said.

“My first job was with ICI Crop Care as a sales rep in far north Queensland, followed by herbicide product manager in Melbourne.”

He spent the following eight years at Zeneca Agrochemicals in a variety of marketing strategy and general management roles in the United Kingdom, Europe and Eastern Europe before returning to Australia as marketing manager for Syngenta when the company was formed in 2000.

After spending his entire career in agribusiness, Mr Titze is optimistic about the future for Australian agriculture.

“Agriculture is continuing to develop quickly in Australia and Asia, where a growing middle class wants more and better food,” he said.

“However, resources such as land, water and labour are constrained in many countries and require new technologies to meet the growing demand.

“These new technologies, including digital, open up new opportunities and challenges for growers, distributors and manufacturers.”

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Cotton research’s new executive officer

DR IAN Taylor has been appointed the new executive director of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC), the role most recently held by former executive director, Bruce Finney.

Ian Taylor

CRDC chair, Richard Haire, said in his former role as general manager, Mr Taylor had overseen CRDC’s investment into cotton research, development and extension (RD&E) for the past five years.

“Ian’s sound leadership, strong relationships with CRDC’s extensive portfolio of stakeholders, and thorough strategy development – most recently demonstrated through his role in developing the CRDC Strategic RD&E Plan for 2018-23 – will serve CRDC and the Australian cotton industry well,” he said.

“One of Ian’s key priorities in the role will be ensuring a strong future for cotton innovation, research and development, in partnership with the industry and in collaboration with our fellow research and development corporations.”

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New Heritage Seeds manager

FORMER Zimbabwean farmer, Rory Richards, has been appointed national operations manager for Heritage Seeds.

Rory Richards

Prior to his recent role as the chief executive officer of private equity start-up, Toowoomba Premium Milk, Mr Richards was largely in charge of operations for Fonterra in China, as well as its international farming ventures.

Based in Beijing, he was responsible for developing Fonterra’s milk pools in South East Asia and setting up a mega dairy with a budget of $500 million. This included three farms, comprising about 150 hectares, effectively accommodating 18,000 milking cows within a herd of 36,000 head, which were fed four to five times a day with a total mixed ration.

Mr Richards previously rose through the ranks at RM Williams Agricultural Holdings to the position of chief operations officer and later chief executive officer after it earlier acquired Inglewood Farms, where he was the general manager.

Prior to that he managed a cotton aggregation for a family group.

In his new role with Heritage Seeds, Mr Richards will be responsible for its warehouse and processing plants, including all coating, blending, mixing, bagging and dispatching of product.

In addition to its major facilities in Melbourne and Toowoomba, the company has smaller sites in Brisbane and at Walkamin in Queensland, as well as a number of third-party logistics warehouses.

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FastStart cotton winners

John Cameron

QUEENSLAND Darling Downs cotton grower, John Cameron, has taken out the dryland cotton category for the FastStartTM Establishment Awards for the 2018-19 season, winning a trip for two to Kununurra and Broome, Western Australia.

North-West New South Wales grower, Todd Farrer, Merah North was the winner of the irrigated category for the FastStart Establishment Awards, also receiving a trip for two to WA.

FastStart is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD) which funds research and practical solutions to support healthy establishment and robust growth in the early stages of a cotton crop’s life.

This season, a competition to compare establishment percentage and uniformity saw over 75 entries across both dryland and irrigated categories.

Todd Farrer

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New northern crop research leader

Georgie Pengilley

THE northern farming region has a new crop research leader, Dr Georgina Pengilley, who is based at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Tamworth Agricultural Institute.

DPI’s Northern Cropping Systems director, Dr Guy McMullen, said Dr Pengilley had a strong agricultural background with a diverse range of research and development experience.

“In her role as Leader Crop Genetics and Market Access, Dr Pengilley will focus on pulse and cereal breeding, coupled with improvements in cereal and pulse quality and functionality,” he said.

Dr Pengilley previously worked as the Leader Grains Research and Strategy with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA). She has also undertaken agronomic and breeding research in alkaloid poppies in Tasmania.

She has a Degree in Rural Science (Hons) in 2000 and a PhD in 2004 and is from an 8300-hectare crops and livestock family farm.

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Jan Cathcart rice scholarship

SUNRICE has announced the 2019 recipient of the Jan Cathcart Scholarship is Emily Fasham, who grew up on her family’s rice farm near Wakool in the NSW Riverina.

The $30,000 scholarship will support Ms Rasham to complete a Bachelor of Agriculture degree that she will commence this year at the University of Melbourne.

Now in its fifth year, the scholarship is designed to provide recipients with financial support and hands-on industry experience to assist them in achieving their career goals.

SunRice chairman Laurie Arthur, Jan Cathcart’s sister Judy Johnston, scholarship winner Emily Fasham and SunRice chief executive officer Rob Gordon.

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Strategic grains research appointment

DR NICOLE Rice has been appointed the new bilateral manager to oversee the $130 million long term Grains Agronomy & Pathology Partnership (GAPP), between the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Nicole Rice

DPI group director of plant systems, Dr Alison Bowman, said Dr Rice would be responsible for providing strategic leadership to help growers reduce input costs, improve research collaboration, and decrease duplication and strategically invest in new technologies and capacity.

The GAPP has three major investment areas: winter crop agronomy research, winter crop pathology research and an infrastructure, capacity building and skills development program.

Dr Rice said the role represented a unique opportunity to combine an agriculture and research background, with experience in the areas of research governance, project management and research capacity building.

“I hope that I can make a valuable contribution to ensuring the bilateral research partnership successfully delivers outcomes which benefit the grains industry,” Dr Rice said.

“I look forward to working with our research teams to support growers to boost business profitability through improved on-farm practices for managing cereal, oilseed and pulse crops.”

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Grain’s leading ladies

WOMEN in the grains industry with an ambition to shape the future of Australia’s food and fibre sector are encouraged to apply for the National Farmers’ Federation’s 2019 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is partnering with the NFF in the 2019 program to support more women to be represented in the industry’s key-decision making roles.

Brondwen MacLean

GRDC executive manager for applied R&D, Brondwen MacLean, who was an industry mentor in the 2018 program, said evidence showed the result of women being well represented and genuinely heard was a more productive, profitable work environment.

“This program is about ensuring the agricultural industry has the very best input, leveraging off the intelligent and professional women we have across our sector. The very best industries have strong female representation across all aspects of business. It is encouraging to see that agriculture is working toward achieving diversity and equality across the board,” she said.

The Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program provides applicants with a six-month one-on-one mentorship and the opportunity to be a part of an alumni of female agriculture leaders.

Over the course, Program participants will work with their specially matched mentor to develop the skills and networks they need to realise their leadership ambitions.

Successful 2019 applicants will also take part in a two-day Canberra leadership retreat during May and graduate in October as part of the NFF’s 40th Anniversary celebrations.

To be eligible for Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, applicants must be 25 years or over. Applications close on Monday 25 March 2019.

More information: https://farmers.org.au/campaign/diversity

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Agricultural innovator award

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) technical officer, Ashlea Webster, has been recognised as an agricultural innovator in the 2019 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Ashlea Webster

Recipient of the AgriFutures Australia Award, Ms Webster, is developing a speedy and portable soil test to replicate complex laboratory analysis as part of her work with the DPI Australian Inoculants Research Group (AIRG).

She aims to unlock the DNA code of key rhizobia and build a portable device to test rhizobial soil activity in the field and give farmers results in a matter of hours.

“Rhizobia inoculants play an import role in legume production, working in a symbiotic relationship with plants, allowing legumes to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and grow,” Ms Webster said.

“Rhizobia contribute billions to Australian agriculture each year and my aim is to deliver cost-effective technology which will help farmers gain an immediate insight into the relationship between their soil and plants.

“Farmers can use the results to better inform crop management decisions.”

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Plant science award for women

A PLANT scientist from The University of Western Australia who made significant breakthroughs in disease resistance in the oilseed crop canola has been awarded the 2019 Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science.

Jacqui Batley

UWA recipient Professor Jaqueline Batley from the School of Biological Sciences researches crop genetics to enable breeders to produce better crops with resistance to disease and climatic conditions.

“I’m studying the DNA of plants to better understand genes that lead to greater crop resilience,” she said.

“If we can improve the quality and quantity of crop production, this will have huge benefits globally.

“A major factor of famine is crop failure so if we can work out ways to improve crop production security this will have huge benefits to populations and the agriculture industry across the globe.”

The Nancy Millis Medal recognises mid-career female scientists who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and established an independent research program in the natural sciences.

The medal honours the contributions made to science by the late Professor Nancy Millis AC MBE FAA FTSE and recognises her importance as a role model for aspiring female scientists in Australia.

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Summer grains award nominations

AUSTRALIAN grains industry participants are being encouraged to submit nominations for the Ben Coleman Memorial Award and Zoe McInnes Memorial Award, to be presented at the 2019 Australian Summer Grains Conference to be held on the Gold Coast, July 8-10.

The two awards recognise the commitment to excellence shown to the Australian grains industry by growers and agronomists.

Maree Crawford

Chair of the conference, Maree Crawford, said the Ben Coleman Memorial Award was a new award that recognised the selfless commitment to the industry by a farmer.

It was established in memory of Ben Coleman from Mt Moriah on the Central Darling Downs, who was lost to the industry too soon in late 2017.

Eligible entrants must be a practicing farmer and be nominated by industry or their peers.

The Zoe McInnes award, valued at $5000, aims to recognise the outstanding contribution to agronomic excellence by an agronomist.

It was established in memory of agronomist Zoe McInnes, who was tragically lost to the industry in a farming accident in 2013.

Nominations for these two awards close 22nd March 2019.

More information: www.australiansummergrains.com.au

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Rabo business management programs

APPLICATIONS for the 2019 intake for Rabobank’s Business Management Programs are now open.

Developed specifically for primary producers looking to take their business to the next level, the Executive Development Program (EDP) caters for experienced business owners or senior managers, while the Farm Managers Program (FMP) has been developed for younger farmers looking to enhance their management capabilities.

More than 1200 of Australia and New Zealand’s most progressive farmers have graduated from the programs over the past two decades.

Applications for the FMP close on Friday, March 29 and the EDP on Thursday, April 26.

More information: https://www.rabobank.com.au/agribusiness/business-management-programs/

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UWA communications officer

LAURA Skates has taken the position of communications officer within the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) Institute of Agriculture while Diana Boykett is on maternity leave for 12 months.

Ms Skates completed her Bachelor of Science (Botany and Conservation Biology) with Honours at UWA in 2014.

She has spent the last few years as a postgraduate student in the UWA School of Biological Sciences, and is soon to complete her PhD thesis on the nutrition and ecology of carnivorous plants, supported by Kings Park Science and the BayCEER Laboratory of Isotope Biogeochemistry in Bayreuth, Germany.

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‘Down under’ role for US Case manager

Alyx Selsmeyer

AMERICAN-BORN Alyx Selsmeyer was working for Case IH at the brand’s United States headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, two-and-a-half years ago when a job opportunity ‘down under’ in Australia was too good to refuse.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate started as the product manager for Sprayers and High Horsepower Case IH ANZ in January of 2017.

After overcoming some of the initial ‘cultural’ hurdles, she has embraced the role and the opportunities it provides to see Australia’s vast regions.

“I was going through everything associated with taking on a new job – absorbing huge amounts of information, getting to know my new colleagues and a new workplace – as well as all that goes with moving to a new country. I felt like I was re-learning everything,” she said.

“And then there was the driving. The first time I had to drive on the other side of the road in Sydney rush hour traffic was a bit overwhelming, I have to say.”

Ms Selsmeyer also came to appreciate the differences in agricultural practices between Australia and the US.

“Obviously the weather’s a lot more temperate here for the most part; people are farming all year round here whereas back home there are very small planting and harvesting windows because of our very cold winters,” she said.

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