A dozen new faces have joined the GRDC’s regional panels for the northern, southern and western grain-growing regions. Appointed by the GRDC Board for the next two years, the new panellists draw on the expertise and acumen of grain growers, advisers and researchers.
Northern panellists (from left) Andrew McFadyen (Coolah, NSW), Jack Williamson (Goondiwindi, Queensland) and Penny Heuston (Warren, NSW) at the IA Watson Grains Research Centre and Plant Breeding Institute at Narrabri, NSW.
PHOTO: Sarah Jeffrey
Newly appointed northern region panellists examined the benefits of existing GRDC-funded research projects and the future direction of research investment on their tour of New South Wales. James Clark, GRDC Northern Panel chair, says the panellists’ spring tour of northern and central-western NSW had an important advisory and strategic role in helping to guide research investment: “Panellists are the GRDC’s eyes and ears on the ground, so getting out into growers’ paddocks and research centres plays a critical role in gathering information about future needs and priorities for research, development and extension.”
“The panel system is one of the enduring strengths of the GRDC as it helps ensure that GRDC-funded research is regionally focused and delivers local solutions to cropping challenges. However, consultation during the tour is a two-way street – it also allows the GRDC to explain its investments in new projects relating to issues such as farming systems agronomy, disease and pest management, herbicide resistance, and crop and soil nutrition,” he says. The northern spring tour included Tamworth, Narrabri, Trangie, Condobolin, Burren Junction, Coonamble and Narromine.
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At the Hart Field Day, SA: (from left) Nick Poole (FAR, Inverleigh, Victoria), Matt Dare (grower from Marola, SA, and field day board member), Keith Pengilley (Southern Panel chair from Conara, Tasmania), Tanya Howitt (GRDC corporate services executive manager and panellist from Canberra), Justin Wundke (grower from Condowie, SA, and field day chair) and Louise Flohr (Agrilink Agricultural Consultants agronomist from Lameroo, SA).
PHOTO: Sharon Watt
The GRDC’s new Southern Panel looked into the cropping challenges facing grain growers in southern farming systems during the spring tour of South Australia. Keith Pengilley, Southern Panel chair, says panellists met with growers, researchers, farming systems groups, advisers and policymakers to gain new knowledge of agronomic constraints to grains productivity and profitability, and to help identify future research priorities.
“As panel members, we are responsible for ensuring the voices of growers are heard in relation to the challenges they face in their farming systems,” Mr Pengilley says. “The annual spring tour helps provide us with greater understanding of growers’ concerns and needs, which, in turn, helps to inform GRDC investments in research, development and extension.”
The 2015 spring tour provided insights into cropping constraints, such as herbicide resistance, which affect growers across the southern grains region. The week-long tour saw panelists travel to SA’s Mid and Upper North, including Adelaide, Hart, Port Pirie, Port Germein, Baroota, Booleroo, Cleve, Minnipa, Brimpton Lake, Yeelanna and Ungarra.
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Catching up at Badgebup, WA: (from left) Western Panel chair Peter Roberts, grower Richard Marshall, panellist Dr Greg Rebetzke and grower Stephen Marshall.
PHOTO: Natalie Lee
The GRDC received feedback from grain growers on local agronomic issues as part of the new Western Panel’s spring tours of the WA grainbelt. GRDC Western Panel chair Peter Roberts says the panellists assisted in developing and prioritising the GRDC’s regional and national research, development and extension investment during three separate tours in September.
“The GRDC’s annual spring tours inform us about growers’ cropping issues and research priorities,” Mr Roberts says.
“Feedback helps the panel, comprising growers and other representatives from WA’s grains industry, to ensure GRDC investments deliver the best possible value to growers. Consultation during the tours also allowed the GRDC to explain its investments in new technologies, such as herbicide resistance, frost, soil constraints and crop rotations, as well as pre-emptive research into disease, such as rust.”
Of the three spring tours, the first covered WA’s Northern Agricultural Region (NAR), including Geraldton, Binnu, Yuna, Three Springs, Eneabba, Tardun and Mullewa. The second spring tour saw the panelists visit the state’s Upper Great Southern (UGS) region, including Kukerin, Nyabing and Pingrup, and the third tour covered WA’s Esperance region, including Condingup, Beaumont, Wittenoom Hills, Salmon Gums, Jerdacuttup, Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe.
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