Communication is a key aspect of the job for membership of the GRDC northern panel, according to Penny Heuston, who is returning to the panel for a second term after a two year break.
“It is good having someone working in the field taking messages from growers to Canberra and vice versa, taking developments from Canberra back to the paddock,” Ms Heuston said.
Ms Heuston said each panel member brought different skills to the role and as an agronomist with 20 years’ experience, she could effectively communicate with both scientists and farmers.
“It is good to have a mixture of skill sets on the panel because we sometimes need people with a more scientific bend to put that scientific rigour into projects, and you also need farmers who can say what works in the paddock and what doesn’t,” Ms Heuston said.
“And you have got people in the middle like agronomists who can take some of the science and bundle it up for farmers and also explain to the scientists exactly what farmers’ need.”
Based in Warren in the NSW Central West, Ms Heuston said priorities for her region included addressing the differences in soil types, with single paddocks sometimes ranging from clays to sand, as well as looking into profitable options for crop rotations and the effect of these rotations have on nutrient levels and yields in the crop following.
“Nutrient budgeting in a cash poor environment is a big hurdle for us at the moment, trying to come up with the answer of ‘how do a get the greatest return from every dollar I spend on fertiliser’ is the question farmers want answered,” she said.
“Canola has also been a crop that has been increasing in popularity but there are still some questions for research about its performance.
“But the biggest challenge we are faced with today is herbicide resistance and how to manage this from a whole farm approach, not just with chemical reliance.”
Ms Heuston said she had gained a lot from her last term on the panel, learning from the other panel members, GRDC staff and researchers.
“You get to meet with the scientists and be face to face with them on the cutting edge of research, which is pretty exciting.”
She said her large network within the region and practical knowledge from the paddock would help her in the role.
More information on the GRDC Northern Panel is available at www.grdc.com.au
Caption: GRDC Northern Panellist Penny Heuston.
Penny Heuston, GRDC Northern Panellist, Warren, NSW
02 6847 4845, 0428 474 845
Michael Thomson, Senior Consultant, Cox Inall Communications,
07 4927 0805, 0408 819 666