AN EXPERT in soils, crop nutrition and fertilisers – described as both practical and a big picture thinker – is the winner of the 2020 western region Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Seed of Light award.
Independent consultant Wayne Pluske received the award today at Western Australia’s annual grains research forum – the GRDC Grains Research Update in Perth.
Accepting the award, Mr Pluske said his philosophy was “the simpler the better. That is what I try to do for agriculture”.
“I have been banging on about fertiliser efficiency and soils for years. In terms of fertiliser decisions, the change has been incremental,” he said.
“If we are going to meet the cost/price squeeze in producing a commodity product we are going to have to get some ‘blue sky’ thinking to leap frog where we are currently at.”
Presenting the award, GRDC Western Region Panel chair Darrin Lee said Mr Pluske was well respected and had the ability to convert complex and technical information into concepts that were easily understood by growers.
“Wayne always keeps grower profitability top-of-mind and he provides evidence-based, practical advice, minimising risks and hassles,” Mr Lee said.
“His communication style is to-the-point, measured and concise.
“Wayne has an unassuming and approachable nature, but also has the ability to think about the ‘big picture’ and to find and implement innovative solutions to difficult problems.
“He is well connected, mentors younger people in the industry and is willing to share the expertise he has gained from more than 25 years of working in the areas of soils, nutrition and fertilisers.”
Mr Lee said one of Mr Pluske’s strengths was his excellent facilitation skills.
“He is highly regarded as a contributor to extension in GRDC initiatives including the Updates, the Soils Constraints – West steering committee (as chair) and Managing Soil Constraints Forums that were held in 2019,” he said.
“Wayne is also successfully leading a project that is extending to growers the results of the five-year Soil Constraints West project.”
During his career, Mr Pluske has worked in public and private organisations and has been involved in the development and use of many services for the delivery of soil and plant tests and information to advisers and growers.
He is the founder and director of Equii, an independent consultancy advising growers, advisers, agribusiness and industry organisations on soils, plant nutrition, and fertiliser.
Mr Pluske is also technical director of Laconik, which is focussed on scoping, testing and commercialising in-paddock agricultural technologies.
He started his working career in 1987 as a research officer with the WA Department of Agriculture, before joining Wesfarmers CSBP where he worked from 1992 to 2002 as a senior agronomist.
From 2003 to 2011 he was with the Back Paddock Company, where he became managing director and was responsible for a national operation providing soil testing, farm planning, training and consultancy to the agricultural industry.
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