The long-standing Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) advisory panel system has evolved with the organisation’s recent restructure, says Dr Steve Thomas, GRDC executive manager commercial programs.
“The role of the panels has not so much changed as become more tailored with the recent restructure of GRDC,” Dr Thomas says.
“The investment strategy that we have in place is a broadscale strategy set by the GRDC board.
“The role of the regional panels in terms of understanding issues and identifying them in the region hasn’t changed – they are still an integral part of that.
“The difference for the panel is providing more and more information as to what the actual issues are and what the best way of addressing those might be.”
Dr Thomas says the panels are an integral part of GRDC’s process for interacting directly with growers and industry and feeding current concerns back into the organisation.
“In the northern region some of the issues that have been raised extend from problems like herbicide-resistant weeds, feathertop Rhodes grass, matching inputs to meet quality requirements and delivery specifications in different years; as well as issues like nutrient mining in the soils and how we go about replacing those nutrients.
“GRDC invests on the basis of themes within the investment strategy which target the higher level outputs and outcomes that we are striving for on behalf of grain growers.
“This includes issues that need be addressed, either from a production or resource management or marketing perspective to meet those.”
Dr Thomas is part of the northern panel, which includes representatives from a wide geographic spread, from Central West NSW to Central Queensland.
“I would urge all growers if they do have an issue to raise or comment to make that they contact either one of their local panel members, the panel chair, James Clark, or a GRDC staff member.”
Dr Thomas has served on the northern panel for more than two years as the GRDC executive representative.
“I’ve been very lucky to be on the GRDC northern panel as it is integral to how GRDC tailors its investments to ensure we target issues that are going to give the greatest return to our major stakeholder, which is grain growers.”
He says the danger as an executive is becoming disenfranchised from the grower base, but serving on the panel is an opportunity to maintain linkages with growers and advisers through panel members.