Keith is the Southern Regional Panel chair, and as well as steering southern panel activity, he also represents the southern cropping region on GRDC’s National Panel.
“The panel chair is a very exciting and diverse role and I’m very honoured to represent the southern region,” he says.
“The challenges facing farmers are varied and need a targeted response and the challenge for panel chairs, the National Panel and senior people at GRDC is to prioritise issues right across Australia.”
While Keith advocates for a broad cross-section of growers, he is particularly passionate about the high rainfall zone and irrigation farming systems that characterise Tasmania.
He runs a mixed farming operation of 8300 hectares across four farms in the Tasmanian Midlands.
He believes a great opportunity exists for increasing grains production out of the southern cropping region’s high rainfall zone, and views research projects looking into new varieties and improving farm systems management as continued priorities for the future.
“I suppose my passion is high rain fall zone farming because that’s what I’m exposed to every day. It’s also a very exciting time in irrigation, especially with investments happening in Tasmania at the moment around irrigation potential.
“If we are trying to increase production in Victoria by doubling grain production in the next 20 years, a lot of that crop is going to have to come out of the high rainfall zone. That’s just one example of how important it’s going to be to harness the rainfall that we get and convert that into grain in the future.”
Keith has broad experience in the grains sector, having early in his career worked in retail agronomy and as a farm consultant and researcher with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. In addition to now running his family farming operation, he is a director of a grain accumulation storage, marketing and export business in Tasmania.
Although Keith wants to maintain a research focus on the everyday issues facing growers, he also wants GRDC to be a part of ‘the next big thing’ for southern region grain production.
“We’ve got a range of tactical agronomy issues that are here and now and affecting farmers in their paddocks today. We have to be realistic and do what we can to answer the questions of today.
“But looking beyond that, what are going to be some of the bigger issues that are affecting growers? We have to look at our ‘blue sky’ investments – what’s going to bring the next quantum leap in production in 10 years time that’s going to give us the next big boost in yield for farmers?”
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