People on the move

People on the move in the grains and cropping sector

Grain Central, April 12, 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.

  • Marshall takes on NSW ag ministry
  • Cotton stalwart retires
  • CBH Group appoints new deputy chair
  • Key role at Incitec Pivot Fertilisers
  • Murray-Darling regional appointments
  • Cargill appointments
  • Lachstock central adviser
  • WA biosecurity committee
  • GPA advocacy team appointment
  • New biosecurity inspector-general
  • Young farmer tour to US
  • Regional Investment Board finalised
  • Young ag researchers impress
  • GPSA emerging leaders program
  • Rural Bank 2020 graduate program
  • Drone scholarships on offer
  • Ag engineering focus on automation

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Marshall takes on NSW ag ministry

ADAM Marshall has been appointed New South Wales’ Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW following the state election on March 23 which saw the return of the Liberal/Nationals Government.

Adam Marshall

The 34-year-old already has an established track record in public life. He was 19 when elected as a Gunnedah Shire Councillor in 2004, became deputy mayor in 2007 and was mayor of Gunnedah from 2008-12.

Mr Marshall has represented the NSW seat of Northern Tablelands as a member of The Nationals since winning a by-election in 2013 and served as the Minister for Tourism and Major Events and the Assistant Minister for Skills from January 2017 until March 2019 in the NSW government.

In other NSW ministerial appointments following the election, Michael Johnsen has become Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Melinda Pavey is now Minister for Water, and Matt Kean is the Minister for Energy and Environment.

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Cotton stalwart retires

AFTER 22 years at Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD) and a total of 34 years in the wider cotton industry, CSD product development manager, Philip Steel, is retiring.

Philip Steel

After spending 11 years with the NSW Department of Agriculture as a regulatory officer, setting up quality assurance systems for cotton export products, Mr Steel joined CSD in 1996, at a time when the company was moving into genetically modified cotton.

He played a key role in establishing the rigorous quality assurance requirements of this technology, much of which underpins CSD’s Quality Assurance protocols today.

Moving into management, Mr Steel oversaw the reorganisation of seed processing at Shenstone as CSD’s first major plant upgrade occurred in 1999/2000

He also led a team that commercialised the Bollgard II technology for CSD.

In 2002, he undertook the role of managing CSD’s newly acquired seed increase and research farm before moving into a strategic product development role, where for the past 12 years he has overseen CSD’s international business, deploying new material into various markets and overseeing IP management and governance over international matters.

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CBH Group appoints new deputy chair

THE CBH Group has appointed member director Simon Stead as deputy chairman of the Board, replacing Vern Dempster who has been deputy chair from April 2013 to April 2014 and re-appointed to the position in August 2014.

Simon Stead

Mr Dempster will remain on the Board as one of two member-elected Directors for District 2.

Mr Stead has been a member director of the CBH Board since 2015 and is the CBH appointed representative on the Co-operatives WA Council.

He is also a member of the Industry Advisory Board of the UWA Institute of Agriculture and a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Stead runs a mixed cropping, sheep and cattle operation in Cascade and Dalyup in the Esperance port zone.

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Key role at Incitec Pivot Fertilisers

INCITEC Pivot Fertilisers has strengthened its agronomy and innovation team, with the appointment of Jan Edwards as director of agronomy and ideation.

Jan Edwards

Ms Edwards leads the company’s six-member agronomy team who are industry leaders in plant nutrition research, development and advice for customer agronomists and the broader agronomy and farming community.

She joins Incitec Pivot Fertilisers after eight years with the Grains Research and Development Corporation, most recently as senior regional manager – north.

Prior to this, she worked in agronomy and advisory roles with the NSW Department of Primary Industries for 15 years, including almost seven years as district agronomist based at Cowra.

Ms Edwards has a science degree majoring in resource and environmental management from The Australian National University and a Masters degree in agriculture from the University of New England.

She also has a graduate certificate in public sector management from Flinders University and recently completed the Advanced Management Program at the Melbourne Business School.

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Murray-Darling regional appointments

THE Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has appointed a former farm manager and small business owner with strong local connections as the new regional engagement officer for Menindee and the lower Darling in western New South Wales.

MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde said Richard Unsworth would take up the Menindee position, which involves providing direct feedback to the MDBA about issues relating to the area and helping local communities learn more about water management.

“Given the significant challenges in the region, having an engagement officer who is involved with the community means we can hear more directly the views and frustrations the community is experiencing. My hope is this position will also help us work with Menindee community to improve river health and river management,” he said.

The position will be part time and for an initial six months.

Mr Unsworth joins seven other regional engagement officers who live across the Basin.

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Cargill appointments

Erik Wibholm

ERIK Wibholm has been appointed managing director of Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain (CASC) Australia, having previously spent four years as trading and risk manager for CASC Australia.

Penne Kehl has been appointed director financial planning for CASC Asia Pacific. She was previously the managing director of the Cargill Australia business. She was raised on her parents’ beef farm in the Maranoa region in Queensland.

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Lachstock central adviser

JOE Reynolds will join the Lachstock Consulting team as senior adviser – central, commencing on May 1, to help clients in New South Wales manage risk in their agricultural enterprises.

Mr Reynolds grew up on a family farm at Adelong in southern NSW and is still involved with his own farming interests.

He has completed a degree in agribusiness and has worked in corporate agriculture for eight years, mostly in NSW and Western Australia.

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WA biosecurity committee

A NEW chairperson and two new members have been appointed to the industry-based management committee that oversees the Western Australian grains, seeds and hay industry’s biosecurity funding scheme.

Anne Wilkins and Rod Birch will join Ron Creagh, Drew Mutter and Suzanne Woods as members of the Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Funding Scheme Management Committee.

Rohan Day, a grain farmer south-east of Merredin, has been appointed as chair after almost three years as a member.

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GPA advocacy team appointment

GRAIN Producers Australia (GPA) has appointed Maddison McNeil as executive officer to the advocacy team at GPA.

Ms McNeil was previously grains policy officer at Western Australia Farmers Federation for four years.

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New Biosecurity inspector-general

Helen Scott Orr

ROB Delane has been appointed the next Inspector-General of Biosecurity (IGB) for a three-year term, replacing Helen Scott-Orr who has been in the role since 2016.

Dr Scott-Orr’s term expires in July 2019, at which time Mr Delane will take up the role.

Mr Delane comes to the position with 40 years’ experience in science-based work, including across animal and plant biosecurity.

The role provides independent evaluation and verification of Australia’s biosecurity risk management.

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Young farmer tour to US

THE Grains Research Foundation Limited (GRFL) has opened applications for its annual ‘Globalising Growers’ United States Grains Industry Study tour.

Luke Skerman

Aimed at younger growers, the tour will depart Brisbane in late July for two weeks, landing in Dallas before visits throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Now in its fifth year, tour participants will have the chance to learn about current US sorghum research, innovative farmers and US grains research funding models.

GRFL chair Luke Skerman said major visits on the 2019 tour would include Texas A&M University, National Sorghum Producers and the US Sorghum Checkoff, Kansas State University and the USDA ARS, along with leading farmers in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Applications close 26th April and application forms are available via the GRFL website: www.grf.org.au.

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Regional Investment Board finalised

SHARON Starick has been appointed as the final board member of the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC), which supports the long-term strength, resilience and profitability of Australian farm businesses.

Ms Starick has been appointed for a period of three years.

She joins other board members Lucia Cade, Mark Lewis and Prue Bondfield, with David Foster appointed as chair of the Board.

The RIC provides loan services to our farmers to help them build and maintain diversity in the markets they supply and take advantage of new and emerging opportunities.

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Young ag researchers impress

WESTERN Australia’s Curtin University agribusiness graduate Jefferson Allan has been awarded the Noel Fitzpatrick Medal from a field of five finalists at the Young Professionals in Agriculture Forum.

Mr Allan also took out the award for best presentation, sharing his 2018 honours research with Curtin’s Centre for Crop and Disease Management related to the pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, which causes Sclerotinia stem rot.

His project compared gene expression in S. sclerotiorum while infecting canola and lupins.

Mr Allan will represent Western Australian at the national Young Professionals in Agriculture Forum in Launceston, Tasmania, on 18 April.

This year’s runner up was Chinese student Ci Sun for her Masters research in Agricultural Science at the University of Western Australia (UWA) on alternative weed control practices to combat herbicide resistance – a major issue in Australian dryland agriculture.

Third place went to Ya-Chun Yu, a Taiwanese student, also with UWA, for her masters’ research topic on ‘Susceptibility to Fe2+ toxicity varies greatly among forage legumes.’

Grains development officer with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Jackie Bucat, said the forum was an annual showcase of the high quality research being undertaken by young professionals across the agriculture sector.

“I am confident these students will make a valuable contribution to their chosen careers.”

DPIRD development officer Jackie Bucat congratulates Young Professionals in Agriculture Forum awardees: Noel Fitzpatrick Medallist and winner of the best presentation, Jefferson Allan, Crawley, runner-up and Chinese student, Ci Sun, Crawley, and third place getter, Taiwanese student Ya-Chun Yu.

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GPSA emerging leaders program

GRAIN Producers South Australia (GPSA) has launched its Emerging Leaders Program, modelled on the highly successful SAFF Future Leaders Program that was established in the early 2000s, and is now seeking the first round of applicants.

The program is adapted for contemporary leadership challenges including social media and director responsibilities and will serve as a training ground; supporting succession planning for GPSA and its member organisations, through participation in committee structures and eventually at Board level.

The GPSA Emerging Leaders program will sponsor up to eight applicants.

Applications close Tuesday, 30 April. www.tinyurl.com/GPSA-ELP19

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Rural Bank 2020 graduate program

RURAL Bank has opened applications for its 2020 Ag Achievers graduate program, seeking exceptional Australian university graduates ready to launch their careers in agribusiness.

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to engage with Rural Bank’s executive team, industry partners and customers, while rotating through key business areas including finance, human resources, marketing, credit and lending, agribusiness and risk.

Graduates will complete rotations throughout the organisation, each tailored to accelerate their professional development.

All graduates will undergo comprehensive training, receive one-on-one mentoring by a senior leader and are provided with hands-on experience with leading agribusiness specialists.

Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree in the past three years in a relevant discipline such as Agricultural Science, Agribusiness, Finance, Rural Valuations, IT, Marketing, HR or Commerce.

Applications close on Monday, 22 April.

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Drone scholarships on offer

THE World of Drones Congress is offering 20 scholarships to cover the full registration fee to attend the WoDC in Brisbane on the 26th and 27th of September, 2019.

Travel, accommodation and associated expenses are to be covered by the scholarship recipient.

Applicants must be aged between 18-35 and need to explain why they will make the most of the scholarship and how they will add value to the drone and STEM community.

Visit www.worldofdrones.com.au/scholarship to apply.

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Ag engineering focus on automation

CHOOSING agricultural engineering as a career path has been a rewarding experience for University of Southern Queensland agricultural engineering students like Logan Torrance and Beverly Muita.

Beverly Muita

They are on the frontline of developing automated farming systems through the university’s Centre for Agricultural Engineering (CAE).

Twenty-year-old Mr Torrance, who has a Scottish background, said he had always had an interest in “how things work”, so moving into the agricultural engineering field was a natural choice for him.

“My dad introduced me to mechatronics and automation control. I just loved it. Being able to design things and incorporate that design with the electrical side of things to make machines do things by themselves has been a natural combination,” he said.

At the CAE, Mr Torrance’s work is focused on the full automation of tractors.

“What we are trying to do is get the operator out of the equation so they can do something more productive with their time. A lot of operator time in the field with tractors is spent waiting for something to go wrong. But if we have automation, it can take more proactive measures rather than reactive and vastly improve the efficiency of the machinery and the farmer’s time,” he said.

“Right now it is still in the research phase, but we are planning to increase the usability of it to make it so any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ can come along, jump in the tractor and be able to understand what to do. We want to make it very user friendly.

“I’d encourage any young person to take up agricultural engineering. Being able to be part of what will eventually roll out into farms across the country, and the world, is a big incentive to be involved.”

For Ms Muita, who hails from Kenya and has a background in mechanical engineering, her focus at CAE is on developing automated systems for livestock and feedlots.

“I’m looking at the induction of cattle and trying to standardise some of the systems to make them safer and better for the users. I’m looking at sensing technology taking the place of physically handling the animals,” she said.

“There is a lot of potential for engineering in agriculture. That field is really growing. I’m very interested in working in food security in my country.”

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