Northern Panel

The panels ensure our investments are in the best interests of our growers and deliver impact to each grain-growing region.

If you would like to contact the Northern Panel, please call 07 4571 4800 or email


Find out more about the northern region.

Panel Members


Image of Arthur Gearon

Arthur Gearon, Panel Chair

Chinchilla, Queensland

Arthur is a grain, cotton and beef producer near Chinchilla, Queensland. He has a business degree from the Queensland University of Technology in international business and management and has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors course. He is a previous vice-president of AgForce Grains and has an extensive industry network throughout Queensland. Arthur believes technology and the ability to apply it across industry will be the key driver for economic growth in the grains industry.


Image of Roger Bolte

Roger Bolte, Deputy Chair

Roger Bolte is a fourth-generation farmers from the West Wyalong area in NSW, operating a 6500ha winter cropping program with his wife and family focusing on cereals, legumes and hay. During his 35-years in the industry, Roger has been involved in R&D in various capacities and has had the opportunity to travel abroad and observe a variety of farming systems. He believes that R&D and education are the cornerstones of the industry and feels privileged to be afforded the opportunity to share his experiences.


Fernanda Dreccer

Dr Fernanda Dreccer

Brisbane, Queensland

Originally from Argentina, Fernanda graduated as an Agronomy Engineer and specialised in plant breeding and crop physiology. Eager to learn more about systems analysis and crop simulation, Fernanda moved to the Netherlands where she completed an MSc and PhD at Wageningen University. Fernanda joined CSIRO in 2005, where she is a Principal Research Scientist. Her research is focused on discovering adaptive strategies underpinning higher yield potential and adaptation to abiotic stress in cereals and pulses. Fernanda leads and partners in multi-disciplinary teams aiming to create positive change and innovation in crop production and resource use efficiency, in Australia and around the world. At the Wheat Initiative, she is chair of the expert working group on abiotic stress and a member of the AHEAD steering committee.


Image of Bruce Watson

Bruce Watson

Parkes, New South Wales

Bruce and his family operate a grain growing business near Parkes, NSW, which produces a mixture of dryland winter cereals, pulses and oilseeds as well as summer dryland cereals and pulses on a 12m zero till CTF platform with full stubble retention. Bruce holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics from the University of Sydney and previously worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers in its Transfer Pricing practice. He is an active member of the grains industry and was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship in 2009. Bruce is interested in both transformational or blue sky research and ensuring that existing research delivers to growers to increase the profitability of their businesses.


image of Georgina Pengilley

Dr Georgina Pengilley

Tamworth/Leeton, New South Wales

Originally from Tasmania where she was involved in her family’s 8500 ha irrigated and dryland mixed farming Georgina Pengilley understands agriculture at a grassroots level. Georgina relocated to NSW in 2018 to take up a role as Research Leader with NSW Department of Primary Industries based in Tamworth. With a PhD in growing canola in low rainfall environments, Georgina is the current CEO of Rice Breeding Australia, a joint venture between AgriFutures Australia, the SunRice Group and the Ricegrowers' which aims to drive development of new varieties for the Australian Rice Industry.


Image of Roy Hamilton

Roy Hamilton

Rand, New South Wales

Roy Hamilton operates a 4400 ha mixed family farming enterprise near Rand in NSW’s Riverina with this wife Leanne, son Sandy and daughter in-law Sara. He was an early adopter of minimum till practices and direct drill and press wheel technology and is currently running CTF on 12m 3-1. The majority of the property (80%) is cropped with wheat, canola, barley, triticale, faba beans, while the remainder under pasture which runs 1400 ewes and trade lambs. He has held roles on the south east NSW Regional Advisory Committee, the GRDC’s southern region Regional Cropping Solutions Network and was a founding committee member of the Riverine Plains farming systems group.


Jo Weier

Jo Weier

Jo Weier, a highly experienced agronomist with over two decades of experience in Northern New South Wales and Southern Queensland, brings a wealth of knowledge to the GRDC Northern Panel. Throughout her career, Jo has worked extensively with both dryland and irrigated farming systems and her hands-on approach has enabled her to identify both the challenges and opportunities inherent to grain growers in the region. Having held roles in consulting agronomy and project management, Jo's expertise extends beyond the field. Her tenure with the Mungindi Cropping Group has honed her ability to pinpoint research priorities and foster collaboration between growers, researchers, and scientists. Jo's dedication to the grains industry is further evidenced by her involvement in various GRDC & CSIRO funded projects, such as the "More Profit from Crop Nutrition" and the "Northern Farming Systems Project." Beyond her professional endeavours, Jo's passion for community is apparent through her leadership roles in local organisations, including her current position as chairperson of the Boomi Community Co-Op.


Belinda Chase

Belinda Chase

Belinda Chase is a highly accomplished agronomist known for her exceptional stakeholder engagement skills and for staying ahead of agricultural advancements. As a Senior Consulting Agronomist at Iker Ag Consulting, she oversees both Cotton and Broadacre Agronomy and has previous experience in a variety of agricultural organisations. Belinda's educational background encompasses a Graduate Diploma in Agronomy from UQ Gatton and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from USQ Toowoomba, where she specialised in Plant and Animal Science. Active in organisations such as Crop Consultants Australia, Belinda holds roles as Secretary and Professional Development Director. Her commitment to the field has garnered recognition, including the 2019 BASF Women in Agriculture Award, and a 2016 Runner-up for the Zoe McInnes Memorial Award for Agronomist of the Year. With a strong foundation in broadacre and cotton agronomy, Belinda brings technical expertise, leadership skills, and an unwavering passion for advancing the agricultural industry to her position as GRDC Northern Panel Member.


Murray Scholz

Murray Scholz

Murray Scholz is a highly accomplished Director & Non-Executive Director and a southern NSW grain grower who has more than four decades of experience in the industry. His commitment to improving the sustainability and long-term profitability of the Australian grains industry is evident through his involvement in industry groups such as the Riverine Plains Grower Group, Southern NSW Cropping Solutions Network, Graham Centre Industry Advisory Panel, and Nuffield Australia. In recognition of his expertise, Murray was also a Nuffield Scholarship recipient during which time he looked at weed management in herbicide tolerant crops. Murray is also a very experienced presenter, giving talks at conferences such as the ABARES National Outlook Conference and the Asia Pacific Weeds Society Conference and is a valuable contribution to the GRDC Northern Panel.


Sarah Ball

Sarah Ball

Sarah Ball and her family are deeply rooted in the agricultural sector of northwest NSW, with a strong emphasis on farming systems and a close-knit relationship with local growers. Sarah boasts a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Sydney and has enriched her academic credentials with an exchange opportunity at the University of Guelph in Canada. Her professional journey began in agronomy, with notable roles at the Walgett Sustainable Agricultural Group and her own venture, Ball Consultancy. Currently, Sarah is with AMPS, Waverley, where she oversees marketing, communications, and grant applications. She's also a key figure in organising agricultural events and disseminating research findings to the community. Sarah's extensive network, spanning various regions from Gulargambone to Moree, showcases her deep ties to the agricultural community. With a passion for research and a keen understanding of grain production challenges, Sarah is committed to driving innovation and ensuring that research outcomes benefit growers and enhance the profitability of their operations.


Juan Juttner

Juan Juttner

Juan Juttner is currently the acting General Manager of Genetic Technologies, Biosecurity and Regulation at GRDC. Within GRDC, he has oversight of research areas including Genetic Technologies (breeding and pre-breeding), Biosecurity and Regulation (chemical regulation) and the National Variety Trials program.

Juan has been with GRDC for 15 years where he has held a range of positions including Senior Manager, Discovery; Senior Manager, Theme Integration and Strategies and Senior Manager, Genetic Technologies.

Formerly a research scientist at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, Juan is plant molecular biologist with over 20 years of experience managing grains research, development and extension (RD&E) investments.

Juan has been involved in the development of many large national investment initiatives and programs including the Australian Grains Genebank Strategic Partnership, Statistics for the Australian Grains Industry and the current phases of the Centre for Crop and Disease Management and the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program. Juan is passionate about the application of novel and innovative technologies to drive crop performance and improve farm profitability and sustainability.