Photo: GRDC northern panel chair James Clark presents the GRDC Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award to respected industry researcher Professor Mike Bell at the GRDC Updates dinner in Goondiwindi.
Soil nutrition is more than just a passion for Mike Bell, it’s a subject to which he’s dedicated more than 30 years of his career.
In the process, he has helped grain growers across Australia improve their crop productivity and profitability through improved farming systems, soil and nutrition, and land management.
Professor Bell’s outstanding industry contribution won accolades from the Australian research community last night when he was presented with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award at the GRDC Grains Research Update dinner in Goondiwindi.
The award comprises a travel bursary aimed at extending the professional networks and collaborative research opportunities of key Australian research scientists for the benefit of the wider grains industry.
GRDC northern panel chair James Clark said Professor Bell was an outstanding industry leader with a proven track record in delivering useful and practical information to growers, managing research and development projects, and mentoring young researchers.
“Professor Bell has an exceptional ability to deliver practical information to growers that can help improve their crop and farming system management year-in-year-out. He is also widely respected as an innovative and forward-thinking leader when it comes to managing research projects,” Mr Clark said.
“At the same time, his contribution to the future capacity of our industry can’t be underestimated – a number of researchers began their career under Professor Bell’s mentorship.”
Professor Bell’s research work has helped industry better understand the presence and behaviour of nutrient concentrations within the soil profile, enabling growers to more accurately estimate crop yield potential and implement more targeted fertiliser programs.
“For years we have been mining nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium to the point where native fertility levels in our once fertile clay soils have been diminished through grain removal,” Mr Clark said.
“If we don’t understand the fertility status of our soils it is extremely difficult to match fertiliser, application rate and method of application to maximise yield.
“Professor Bell’s on-going work is making an enormous contribution to sustaining the industry’s crop yield potential and profitability into the future.”
Professor Bell joined the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation’s (QAAFI) centre for Plant Science in October 2010, after a 27 year research career with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries. He has recently been appointed as chair in Tropical Agronomy at University of Queensland Gatton Campus, a position jointly supported by QAAFI and the School of Agriculture and Food Science.
He has led a number of GRDC-funded projects and has particular interests in soil organic matter, crop nutrition and nutrient management, as well as in the interactions between management practices, crop root systems and soil biota.
He is a strong advocate for the development and adoption of more sustainable land management practices, especially in broad acre cropping regions, with a strong focus on nutrient and carbon dynamics.
The Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award was a further accolade for Professor Bell who is also a past recipient of the GRDC Seed of Light award for the northern grains region in recognition of his contributions to communicating research outcomes to industry.
James Clark, GRDC northern panel chair
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Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications