Grains Research and Development

Date: 02.11.2015

Grain industry salutes the Brownhills

Author: Sarah Jeffrey

Image of men and an award

GRDC Northern Panel chair James Clark (right) presenting Spring Ridge growers Gordon (left) and David Brownhill with the Bruce McClelland Memorial Award.

The achievements and industry contribution of growers David and Gordon Brownhill from Spring Ridge, New South Wales, have been acknowledged with the GRDC northern region Bruce McClelland Memorial Award.

Highly regarded for their pioneering work in zero-tillage and controlled-traffic farming and long-term involvement in agricultural research, the Brownhills were presented with the award at the recent AgQuip field days.

The Bruce McClelland Memorial Award recognises an individual or organisation for their commitment to enhance the long-term sustainability and profitability of the grains industry through innovation, technology and development.

GRDC Northern Panel chair James Clark said the Brownhills’ passion for innovation, research and industry development had helped transform the nature of farming in Australia.

“The Brownhills’ early adoption of controlled-traffic, zero-till farming techniques typified their approach to farming in general – when everyone said ‘you couldn’t’, they moved to 18 metres, refusing to accept no for an answer,” Mr Clark said.

“As an industry we are indebted to the Brownhill family for their willingness to trial new concepts, adopt new technologies and help find answers to some challenging production issues through their involvement in grains research.”

The Brownhills began farming in 1965 and within a few years had become involved in research with the University of New England and later with the University of Sydney.

Gordon began using no-till farming on summer crops in 1980 and was one of the first growers to plant sunflower into sorghum no-till country.

By the late 1980s he was experimenting with no-tilling winter crops and this led the brothers to build a machine known commercially as The Ground Hound planter in 1984, which was used to plant winter crops into heavy sorghum stubble.

David attended university before returning home in 1991. He undertook a Nuffield Scholarship in 1997 and has since gone on to the following Nuffield roles: state and national executive, board chair and governance/finance committee member.

David saw the WeedSeeker® machine in California in 1998 and the Brownhills imported the first machine in 2001. After just one year of sales in Australia, it was estimated that the WeedSeeker® had generated an impressive $20 million to $25 million in chemical savings.

David is a regular presenter at GRDC Grains Research Updates. Gordon has been chair of AMPS Research since 2005.

The family’s farming operation has grown significantly over the past 25 years, expanding from 1000 hectares in the 1990s to its current size of more than 6500ha of dryland and irrigation farming. 

More information:

James Clark, GRDC Northern Panel chair,
0427 545 212

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