Grains Research and Development

Date: 02.05.2016

Awards for dedication

A snails crusader and a soil nutritionist are recipients of the GRDC Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award for 2016.

The award, comprising a travel bursary to extend professional networks and collaborative research opportunities, was presented to a leading authority on the management of snails in farming systems, Graham Hayes, and to soil nutritionist Professor Mike Bell.

Graham Hayes

Portrait of Graham Hayes and Bill Long

With a jar of snails in hand, Graham Hayes (left) receives his GRDC Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award from GRDC Southern Panel member Bill Long.

PHOTO: Sharon Watt

Recognised widely as an authority on snail control, Mr Hayes, a grower from South Australia’s southern Yorke Peninsula, has dedicated much of his working life to helping scientists and being involved in research into snail behaviour, as well as management methods.

Mr Hayes and his family farm at Warooka and Honiton.

Having to deal with four introduced snail species that thrive in the region’s mild Mediterranean climate, Mr Hayes has been on a lengthy crusade to combat the pests, which arrived from Europe more than a century ago.

Snails have been a major problem for the Hayes family since the late 1980s – a consequence of a move to no-till farming. Continuous cultivation previously destroyed snail eggs.

Over the decades, he has worked with the GRDC and research organisations such as the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and Charles Sturt University to build knowledge and devise management tactics.

He was instrumental in the production of the GRDC-supported Bash ’Em, Burn ’Em, Bait ’Em integrated snail management publication, and has hosted trials (including the release of parasitic nematodes and flies and the use of video cameras).

“I even had an orchardist from Greece, overrun with conical snails, asking for help. He’s in Europe where the snails originate but there is more snail control information now in Australia than there is in Europe.”

His experience in dealing with snails and his commitment to overcoming their impact has led to Mr Hayes establishing an effective baiting regime based on the latest research around bait timing and the use of equipment (including a locally made crusher) that eliminates snails from the grain.

GRDC Southern Panel member Bill Long, who presented Mr Hayes with the award, said Australia now leads the world in understanding snail biology and control.

Professor Mike Bell

Portrait of Professor Mike Bell and James Clark

GRDC Northern Panel chair James Clark (right) presents the GRDC Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award to respected industry researcher Professor Mike Bell at the GRDC Update dinner in Goondiwindi.

PHOTO: Cox Inall

For Professor Bell, soil nutrition is a passion to which he has dedicated his 30-year career. In the process, he has helped grain growers across Australia improve their crop productivity and profitability through improved farming systems, soil and nutrition, and land management.

In presenting the award at the GRDC Grains Research Update dinner in Goondiwindi, Queensland, in March, GRDC Northern Panel chair James Clark said Professor Bell was an outstanding industry leader with a track record in delivering practical information to growers, managing R&D and mentoring young researchers.

“Professor Bell is also respected as an innovative and forward-thinking leader and his contribution to the future capacity of our industry can’t be underestimated,” Mr Clark said.

Professor Bell’s research has helped industry better understand the presence and behaviour of nutrient concentrations within the soil profile, enabling growers to more accurately estimate crop yield potential and implement more targeted fertiliser programs.

“If we don’t understand the fertility status of our soils it is extremely difficult to match fertiliser, application rate and method of application to maximise yield.

“Professor Bell’s ongoing work is making an enormous contribution to sustaining the industry’s crop yield potential and profitability into the future.”

Professor Bell joined the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation’s Centre for Plant Science in October 2010, after a 27-year research career with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries. He has recently been appointed chair in Tropical Agronomy at the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus.

He has led several GRDC-funded projects and is a strong advocate for the development and adoption of more sustainable land management practices.

Professor Bell is also a past recipient of the GRDC Seed of Light award for the northern grains region in recognition of his contributions to communicating research outcomes to industry.

More information:

Graham Hayes,

0408 545 132;

James Clark, GRDC Northern Panel chair,
0427 545 212

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