Craig Ruchs (pictured outside the GRDC’s new regional office in Adelaide) has returned to his home state of South Australia in the position of GRDC manager grower services – south.
PHOTO: Sharon Watt
The GRDC has appointed Craig Ruchs as its manager grower services – south. In this new role, Mr Ruchs will focus on regional adaptation of GRDC-funded R&D activities to help speed research outcomes to growers in the southern grain-growing region, comprising South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
Mr Ruchs will also provide an interface between the GRDC Southern Panel, the Regional Cropping Solutions Networks, farming systems groups, researchers, advisers and growers.
For Mr Ruchs, the new role has meant making the transition from the Asia–Pacific region, where he has worked extensively in research, development and extension (RD&E) and marketing roles as part of the international herbicide industry.
Based in Singapore since 2012, Mr Ruchs has most recently worked for Syngenta as herbicide technical lead (Asia-Pacific) and as head of herbicides (South-East Asia).
Mr Ruchs says globally competitive innovation and progression in the Australian grains industry spurred him to take on the role at the GRDC.
“My experience in global agricultural markets brought with it the realisation of just how progressive Australian growers are, and highlighted their desire to seek out and try new technologies,” he says.
“A great example of this is growers’ knowledge and uptake of integrated weed-management techniques, including the recent focus on harvest weed-seed management.
“While growers in other countries continue to rely almost exclusively on herbicides for weed control, Australian grain growers are learning that this alone is not a sustainable long-term option,” he says.
For Mr Ruchs, the position based in the GRDC’s new southern regional office in Adelaide has also meant a return to his home state where he began his career, working as a research agronomist at IAMA, Naracoorte (now Landmark).
“I grew up on a mixed-farming property at Geranium in SA’s Mallee and spent the early part of my career working in agricultural research and extension in eastern SA and Victoria’s Wimmera and Mallee regions.”
He subsequently joined the Syngenta Crop Protection team in 2004, working in regional and national product development and extension roles, which included four years in Western Australia.
Showing his long-term experience in the crop-protection industry, Mr Ruchs considers his contribution to the Australian development of prosulfocarb herbicide a “major career highlight”.
“The evolution of the pre-emergent herbicide market for Australian cereals is a great example of cross-industry collaboration to find multiple new herbicide options for the control of a major emerging resistance issue.
“Close engagement between the crop protection industry, leading weed scientists, advisers and growers was instrumental in ensuring new residual herbicide options were not only registered, but growers were also provided with the right information to facilitate rapid and effective adoption.”
As GRDC manager grower services – south, Mr Ruchs expects to spend much of his time on the road engaging with southern members of the grains industry.
Consultation with growers, advisers, researchers and private enterprise representatives is an important part of his role that aims to identify RD&E needs, manage information delivery, oversee short-term research projects, and promote the GRDC’s products and services in the southern grain-growing region.
“We need to drive practice change on-farm, but to do so growers must have access to information and technology that is relevant, credible, timely and meaningful to their particular farming systems,” he says.
Craig Ruchs, manager grower services – south, GRDC,
0477 710 813
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