Grains Research and Development

Date: 01.11.2001

Meet your panel

Barbara Howlett, Diana Bentley, Deane Aynsley

Barbara Howlett brings to the GRDC's southern panel a keen appreciation of both practical grain growing issues and associated research.

A graduate of the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University, Dr Howlett grew up on the family farm at Wingeel, Victoria, aud is currently Principal Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne's School of Botany.

She leads a multidisciplinary team looking to reduce economic losses caused by the fungal disease blackleg in canola. In particular, her team has determined mechanisms that the fungus uses to infect canola plants. She collaborates with scientists who are identifying alternative sources of resistance to this major disease, and crop management practices.

Dr Howlett was appointed to the southern pauel in July 2001 and is a member of the Crop Protection program team. Dr Howlett says she is looking forward to the next three years of GRDC activity and will add a much broader understanding of the Australian grains industry to her knowledge of the Australian and international canola industries. She also hopes to contribute to GRDC investments by her familiarity with international research efforts, particularly in crop protection and biotechnology, which will help ensure that the GRDC has access to leading-edge international research and partnerships in these areas.

GUNNEDAH consultant Dianne Bentley brings interest and expertise in the management and conservation of natural resources to the Northern Panel that began its term on 1 July.

As executive officer and past chair of the Liverpool Plains Land Management Committee, Ms Bentley was heavily involved in the development of the Liverpool Plains Catchment Investment Strategy, which addresses major natural resource issues that affect agricultural production.

Development of the strategy required detailed knowledge and understanding of production systems and of the biophysical characteristics of the Liverpool Plains catchment.

Ms Bentley is a partner in Gunnedah Management Consultants, a practice involved in project evaluation and long- and short-term planning for farm family and corporate clients in NSW and Queensland.

Intensive study of the Liverpool Plaius' natural resources - encouraged and supported by farmers - opened the way for the Catchment Strategy, which will require an investment of $170 million. The committee developing the strategy had identified six interlocking issues requiring simultaneous action - groundwater recharge/dryland salinity, flooding, soil conservation, biodiversity, riparian management, and water quantity and quality.

"The strategy pulled together research results and farmer expertise and recommends suites of natural resource management actions that vary according to what part of the landscape is involved."

Ms Bentley is also keen to improve on-farm implementation of research results while acknowledging the difficulties often involved in the extension area, particularly when times are tough.

INVOLVED with his family's farming business, RD. and P.M. Aynsley & Co., Beverley, since he was barely the height of a healthy wheat crop, Deane Aynsley has enjoyed a lifetime's involvement with cropping.

He now co-manages a cropping program including Stirling barley, all grades of wheat (with au emphasis on noodles) and oats. Now in the fifth month of his first term on the GRDC's Western Regional Panel with an appointment to the GRDC Winter Cereal Improvement Program, he has some thoughts on cereal development and the industry.

"The demands on agriculture are immense, and all expect continuity of supply of a quality, consistent product. The countries and regions delivering that continuity will be the ones that capture the lucrative markets and secure the financial viability of their industry.

"More productive cereal lines, with greater disease and pest resistance and developed with farming systems tailored to best suit WA conditions, are crucial for producing reliable supply and quality."

Mr Aynsley's agricultural pedigree includes a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Western Australia, culminating in an Honours project investigating livestock nutrition.

"Although there's tremendous emphasis on human food markets, stockfeed remains an important avenue for growers. Buoyant beef and resurgent wool and sheepmeat industries offer considerable local market opportunities, so the GRDC needs to service these needs?" he explained.

Mr Aynsley also considers sustainable farming essential and is interested in conservation including alley farming, recharge drainage and farm forestry (pines, oil mallee and sandalwood).

He is a member of WANTFA, Kondinin Group, and the Oil Mallee Company of Australia.

Region North