Mike Ewing believes the role of research and development in the Australian grains industry is of utmost importance.
With a career in scientific research spanning 40 years, he is particularly well-versed in the fields of farming systems, break crops and taking a whole-farm approach to profitability.
In recent years, his time serving as deputy chairman of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) western regional panel has seen him actively involved in setting the strategic agenda for research, particularly from a science perspective.
Dr Ewing joined the panel about four years ago, and was prompted to apply as a result of his keen interest in Western Australian broadacre agriculture.
“The GRDC has become an increasingly important element of the research, development and extension (RD&E) drivers for Australia’s grains industry,” he said.
“The panel uses extensive networks to get an insight into specific industry problems and opportunities, and tailors initiatives accordingly.”
Dr Ewing said growers modified their production systems based on a vision of increased profitability and accordingly, farm profitability was a cornerstone of the GRDC’s approach to RD&E.
“When formulating research projects, it’s crucially important to know exactly how the work is going to benefit growers, as profitability is of course key to being able to run a good farming operation,” he said.
Dr Ewing said the western panel was targeting a number of key WA priority issues, one of which was break crop agronomy.
Canola has become increasingly important in WA as a break crop and driver of farm income, and has consequently been among the panel’s focus areas.
The panel has shaped break crop RD&E projects which are developing agronomic packages designed to get the best results from canola in different rainfall environments.
Dr Ewing said the GRDC’s western region investment into constraints like non-wetting soils, compaction and soil acidity had grown, and these issues were being addressed through the collaborative research effort Soil Constraints – West.
Being an active participant in the western regional panel has been rewarding for Dr Ewing, who enjoys being able to convert RD&E opportunities into real results.
“There’s a great personal benefit to being a member of a diverse and interesting team of people from farmers to scientists,” he said.
“It’s extremely satisfying to see the outcomes of the panel’s efforts roll out in the hands of growers.”
A video interview of Dr Ewing talking about his role on the GRDC western regional panel is available on the GRDC YouTube channel.
The GRDC is one of the world’s leading grains research organisations, responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing RD&E to deliver improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.
Toni Somes, Cox Inall Communications
0427 878 387
Dr Mike Ewing, GRDC western regional panel
0409 116 750