When John Sykes joined the GRDC Northern Panel in 1994, then chairman Andrew Inglis greeted him as "a father of the Australian canola industry" and a grains industry "engineer of change".
Since then, Mr Sykes has been juggling his panel commitments with those of his 'day job' as Program Leader (Pulses) with NSW Agriculture in Dubbo. There he's responsible for the coordination of breeding and agronomic development of five target pulse crops — faba beans, chickpeas, field peas, lupins and mungbeans.
It's an area Mr Sykes knows well. The industry has acknowledged particularly his role in the development of canola to its current status of mainstream crop.
Mr Sykes also developed the decision support system CANOLA CHECK (along with the similar SOYCHECK).
Mr Sykes was co-founder of the technology transfer project TOPCROP As an active member of the GRDC's oilseeds program, he was involved in the successful renegotiation of the national canola, sunflower, soybean and linseed/linola breeding programs. He also helped initiate the GRDC's sustainable farming systems research in Queensland and northern NSW.
Mr Sykes is very interested in the development of lucerne and other perennials for farming systems in the western areas. He says he would see his biggest achievement is what he has learned from other panel members in the programs he works in.