A key strength of the GRDC, the Region Panels play a critical advisory and strategic role in informing GRDC investments in research, development and extension (RD&E) to create enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.
Shift in intensive livestock production and demand for feed grains to this
John Bennett, Panel Chair
Based at Lawloit, between Nhill and Kaniva in Victoria’s West Wimmera, John, his wife Allison and family run a mixed farming operation across diverse soil types. The farming system is 70 to 80 percent cropping, with cereals, oilseeds, legumes and hay grown. John believes in the science-based research, new technologies and opportunities that the GRDC delivers to graingrowers. He wants to see RD&E investments promote resilient and sustainable farming systems that deliver more profit to growers and ultimately make agriculture an exciting career path for young people.
Mike is a researcher with the University of Adelaide, based at the Waite campus in South Australia. He specialises in soil fertility and crop nutrition, contaminants in fertilisers, wastes, soils and crops. Mike manages the Fertiliser Technology Research Centre at the University of Adelaide and has a wide network of contacts and collaborators nationally and internationally in the fertiliser industry and in soil fertility research.
Michael runs a family farming enterprise at Nile in the Northern Midlands of Tasmania (with property also in northern NSW) having successfully transitioned the business from a dryland grazing enterprise to intensive mixed farming. He currently serves as the Board Chair of TAPAgrico (a Tasmanian-based grain storage, stock feed and logistics company), Director of Tasmanian Irrigation, Director of Starson Farms and Director/Secretary of Winburn Tas. Michael is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has a broad range of experience in resource management, strategic planning and risk profiling, human resource management and operational logistics. Prior to joining the GRDC Southern Panel he served as part of the High Rainfall Zone Regional Cropping Solutions Network for six years. Michael received a GRDC supported Nuffield Scholarship in 2012 to study systemisation and expansion models. He then served on the Board of Nuffield Australia for two years and acted as state chair for three and regularly leads the China leg of the Nuffield Global Focus tour.
Andrew is currently the Managing Director and Shareholder of Lilliput AG and a Director and Shareholder of the affiliated Baker Seed Co, a family owned farming and seed cleaning business. He lives and manages the family farm ‘Glenmoir’ at Browns Plains a 2500 ha mixed cropping enterprise 10kms East of Rutherglen with his wife and two children. Lilliput AG consists of wheat, canola, lupin, faba bean, triticale and oats and clover for seed, and hay cropping operations. Andrew and his family also run 2000 cross bred ewes for fat lamb production and a cattle feedlot. Andrew has served as part of GRDC’s Medium Rainfall Zone Regional Cropping Solutions Network since 2014 and has held many leadership roles in Riverine Plains Inc., Victorian Farmers Federation and Rutherglen Landcare. Andrew has a passion for rural communities, sustainable and profitable agriculture and small business resilience and holds a Diploma of Rural Business Management an Advanced Diploma of Agriculture and is a qualified Electrician.
Fiona has been farming with her husband Craig for 21 years at Mulwala in the Southern Riverina. They are broadacre, dryland grain producers and also operate a sheep enterprise. Fiona has a background in applied science and education and is currently serving as a committee member of Riverine Plains Inc, an independent farming systems group. She is passionate about improving the profile and profitability of Australian grain growers.
Having benefited from the experience of four previous farming generations at Warooka on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, Richard, Lee-Anne, their son Will and staff grow wheat, canola, lentils and faba beans on some challenging soil types to in a Mediterranean-type climate. They also operate a self-replacing Murray Grey cattle herd and Merino sheep flock. Sharing knowledge and fostering strategies with the next generation is of high importance to Richard whose passion for agriculture from an early age has extended beyond the farm to include involvement in the Agricultural Bureau of SA, Advisory Board of Agriculture SA, Agribusiness Council of Australia SA, the YP Alkaline Soils Group and grain marketing groups.
Jon has worked in agriculture for the past three decades, both in the UK and in Australia. In 2004 he moved to Geelong, Victoria, and managed Grainsearch, a grower-funded company evaluating European wheat and barley varieties for the high rainfall zone. In 2007, his consultancy managed the commercial contract trials for Southern Farming Systems (SFS). In 2010 he became chief executive of SFS, which has five branches covering southern Victoria (Gippsland and the Western District) and Tasmania. In 2012, Jon became a member of the GRDC’s HRZ Regional Cropping Solutions Network.
Kate is a partner in a large grain producing operation in Victoria’s Southern Mallee region. Kate and her husband Grant are fourth generation farmers and with their two children they produce wheat, canola, lentils, lupins and field peas. Kate has been an agronomic consultant for more than 20 years, servicing clients throughout the Mallee and northern Wimmera. Kate is passionate about producing high quality grain, whilst enhancing the natural ability of the soil to do so. Having witnessed and implemented much change in farming practices over the past two decades, Kate is also passionate about research and the extension of that research to bring about positive practice change to growers.
Peter is a farmer at Mudamuckla near Ceduna on South Australia's Western Eyre Peninsula. He uses liquid fertiliser, no-till and variable rate technology to assist in the challenge of dealing with low rainfall and subsoil constraints. Peter has been a board member of and chaired the Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation and the South Australian Grain Industry Trust.
Lou is a farmer based at Lameroo in the Southern Mallee of South Australia. Along with her parents and partner, she runs a mixed farming enterprise including export oaten hay, wheat, barley, a variety of legumes and a self-replacing Merino flock. She is currently taking a break from her agronomic consulting business, HF-Ag, to raise her two children Ivy and Jude. After completing her degree in 2008, Lou became a sales agronomist at Cooke Plains in SA’s Upper South-East where she gained valuable on-farm experience and knowledge about the retail industry. She remained in this role for three years before travelling overseas for 12 months. Lou then returned to her home town of Lameroo, working with Agrilink Agricultural Consultants, as well as filling the labour gap at key times on the farm. She started her own consultancy business two years ago. Having delivered a series of grass roots agronomy workshops for women, Lou remains passionate about upskilling women working on farms.
Nicole Jensen is GRDC General Manager for Genetics and Enabling Technologies business group. Nicole brings a wealth of experience in plant breeding and related activities arising from several roles she has held in Australia and internationally in the seed industry including positions as Supply Innovation Lead with the Climate Corporation - Monsanto’s digital agricultural flagship, Global Trait Integration Breeding Lead for Monsanto.
Bringing together a consistent approach to evaluating research priorities with a large network of growers, advisers and researchers across the region has the potential to provide a focused region portfolio of research, development and extension investments.
The objectives of the Regional Cropping Solutions Networks are to:
Create and manage knowledge on grains industry issues.
Build regional D&E capacity among growers and advisers.
Proactively respond to region industry issues in a timely manner.
Provide enduring links between growers, advisers and the GRDC.
Four networks have been established in the southern region, each supported by a facilitator. The networks will meet face-to-face up to three times each year.
Each network will liaise with the wider grower community in their production zone,including convening region meetings with relevant groups.
The facilitator provides each network with an effective interface with regional farming systems groups, agribusiness and research and development organisations across the regions.
While the primary focus of these facilitators will be working with farming systems groups and advisers, their work will also extend into maintaining a regional industry RD&E database of GRDC project activities and results.