The GRDC has recently appointed three regional managers – Darren Hughes, Sharon O’Keeffe and Andrew Rice – to speed the delivery of research outcomes to growers.
The new positions were created to help identify regional research, development and extension (RD&E) needs, manage the regional delivery of information, oversee regionally specific research and promote the GRDC’s products and services.
They will also strengthen links between GRDC panels, researchers, advisers and growers.
Sharon O’Keeffe is keen to meet as many growers as possible in her new role as manager regional grower services – north, based at Boggabri, New South Wales.
Before her appointment, Ms O’Keeffe worked for Landmark, managing its agronomic and farm services for northern NSW and Queensland.
As an agronomist working in the northern grains region she understands that helping growers make profitable crop management decisions requires good strategic research and extension.
With a passion for the grains industry, Ms O’Keeffe is enjoying the opportunity to contribute to the development of the GRDC’s research programs.
Based in the region, she is in continuous contact with growers, researchers and grower groups including the Northern Grower Alliance led by Richard Daniel, Grain Orana Alliance led by Maurie Street and the central-Queensland Grower Solutions Group led by Richard Sequeira.
Another aspect of her role is keeping an eye on regionally specific research projects to ensure they are designed to deliver tangible benefits to northern growers.
Ms O’Keeffe is positive about the northern grains industry, citing its world-class researchers, adaptive growers and passionate adviser network as crucial to ensuring crop production is viable well into the future.
Andrew Rice is the new GRDC
manager regional grower services
Former agribusiness consultant and
agronomist Andrew Rice is the new GRDC
manager regional grower services – south.
As an active partner in his family’s farm
at Parkes, New South Wales, Mr Rice has
developed a solid understanding of growers’
needs. He has an extensive network of
contacts within the region, having spent six
years on the GRDC’s Southern Panel.
In his new role, he is looking forward
to facilitating the regional adaptation of
the GRDC’s research and development
products to speed uptake on-farm.
Working with members of the Southern
Panel and the newly created Regional
Cropping Solutions Networks, Mr Rice
will help plan research to ensure all the
GRDC’s southern region investments are
focused on grower needs at a local level.
Part of his role will be liaising with
advisers to ensure they have the research
information and resources needed to be more
profitable now and over the longer term.
“I want to work very hard within GRDC
to give growers every chance at success in the
way we offer tools and technologies,” he says.
He is aware of the challenges facing
southern growers, with their focus on winter
cropping, and hopes to assist in helping
growers structure their businesses to cope with
a trend for increasing out-of-season rainfall.
Perth-based Dr Darren Hughes
is the new GRDC manager regional
grower services – west.
Having worked on farms as an
agronomist and researcher and as a member
of the GRDC Western Region Panel, Dr
Hughes says he is enjoying his new role
and welcomes contact from growers.
As well as keeping abreast of western
region research, Dr Hughes will be focused
on improving the GRDC’s extension and
communication activities in Western Australia.
Darren Hughes is the new GRDC manager regional
services - west.
He wants to ensure the products and
services of the GRDC’s investments,
particularly those from national research
projects, are effectively delivered on-farm.
“For example, when new germplasm is
developed we need to ensure breeders pick
it up quickly for inclusion in varieties that
are regionally adapted to WA,” he says.
Another aspect of his work is
collaborating with WA’s Regional
Cropping Solutions Networks to
identify RD&E priorities.
He says some of the priorities already
identified are focused around weed control,
water-repellent soils, water use efficiency,
Yield Prophet®, frost, improving cereal
yields, genetics, disease management,
nutrition and soil acidity.
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