Bill is a farmer and agricultural consultant from Ardrossan on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. He has extensive experience in the grains sector, from research and extension to working in agribusiness, over a period of more than 30 years.
“I wear three hats as a southern panel member – I’m an experienced farmer, and I’ve also had a strong background in research. I started my career with the Department of Agriculture as a research officer and then I spent some time with fertiliser and chemical companies and started my own consultancy business in 1996. Now I primarily work as an adviser,” he says.
Bill is no stranger to working with growers to achieve better outcomes, having helped establish the Ag Excellence Alliance network to connect grower-managed production groups. His advisory business has also worked with many family farm businesses, some for 20 years, providing agronomy advice, training and research.
Building skills and capacity for grains industry research is a particular passion for Bill, who recognises the need to support researchers in providing first-class outcomes for advisers and growers. Bill himself received support through a Churchill Fellowship in 2009, which assisted him in travelling to Europe, the UK and USA to better understand the impact of Varroa mites on bees and subsequently on crop pollination.
“I’m interested in many of the issues being dealt with by GRDC. Panel members work in theme groups at a national level, and the two I work in are protecting crops and building skills and capacity. So both of those areas I have a strong interest in and a strong background in.
“The building skills and capacity is an area I’m particularly passionate about. That area invests strongly in building the skills of the research, advisory and farming community through various ways, like PhD researchers, adviser training and programs like Nuffield scholarships for growers. I think they’re fantastic programs and I think we can build on those to produce the best researchers and advisers so we can continue to have the best farmers the world.”
By developing better research capacity, Bill would like to see effective, practical outcomes for growers in tackling every-day issues, such as weed control and herbicide resistance, which are major concerns in his local area.
“If you ask growers what the big change to their practice might be in my region, which is Yorke Peninsula and the Lower and Mid North of South Australia, it might be something like IMI tolerant wheat, canola and even lentils. So that specific group of chemistries has been really valuable in dealing with a number of weed issues. For example medic and tears in lentils. So that’s a way we are looking to improve production into the future and that’s been an investment that GRDC has very much been a part of. That’s been a great outcome.”
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