GRDC’s new faces in the north

Author: Rachel Bowman | Date: 11 Jul 2013

Penny Heuston: Warren, NSW agronomist Penny Heuston has rejoined the GRDC northern panel after a two-year absence.

Northern graingrowers have four new voices on the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) northern panel with the recent appointment of the 11-person panel for 2013-15.  

In announcing the appointments, GRDC Chairman Mr Keith Perrett said James Clark would also continue to provide strong level of leadership as Panel Chair and drive engagement with the grains industry across the Northern Region.

“The role of the GRDC’s Regional Panels is critical in linking GRDC to growers, researchers, scientists, agribusiness and grower groups,” Mr Perrett said. “The GRDC Board considers the appointment of members to the Regional Panels as crucial to the GRDC’s success,” he said.

Mr Clark agreed saying, “The GRDC panel process is very important in ensuring grower concerns, ideas and priorities are fed into GRDC and the new look panel boasts a dynamic and progressive mix of expertise and capacity.”

“Growers, researchers and advisers can be confident that this panel will debate research investments with vigour and in-depth knowledge of opportunities and constraints,” Mr Clark said.

“I urge the industry to engage with the panel and drive the region’s productivity forward.”

The new panellists include: Penny Heuston, Warren, NSW agronomist who previously served on the panel from 2008-10; Kelly Becker, agronomist, Theodore, Queensland; Jules Dixon, research manager, Avalon, NSW; and Jack Williamson, grower and agronomist, Moree, NSW.

Ms Heuston brings a commitment to maximising the profitability of grain production in a lower rainfall environment through increased productivity, taking costs and risks into account.

Penny operated a farm advisory business in central west NSW for a decade before joining Delta Agribusiness.  She focuses on the Warren, Nyngan, Tottenham and Gilgandra areas and has also spent considerable time working with growers at Bourke, Coonamble, Hillston and Condobolin.

Newly appointed GRDC northern panellist Kelly Becker, Theodore, Qld.

Ms Becker is a field marketing agronomist for AgnVet Agribusiness. She is a certified mungbean and chickpea agronomist and also consults with growers on the production of wheat, corn and sorghum crops. She has been involved with variety trials on a commercial basis and industry farm practice trials.

Kelly services an area from Moura to Duaringa, including Baralaba, Bauhinia Downs, Theodore, Banana and Biloela. Her network extends this to Emerald, Capella, Springsure and Dingo.

Ms Dixon is AMPS research manager and a passionate agronomy consultant, communicator and industry advocate.

Her experience in project management and strategic development extends across all facets of an integrated grains business. She has an established network in eastern and Western Australia, including researchers, leading growers, agronomy consultants and commercial industry.


Jules Dixon, Avalon NSW

Mr Williamson has diverse crop management experience, exposure and experience in field trial work and established networks in the northern cropping zone. He operates as a private agricultural consultant and also runs a broadacre commodity production farm in a joint business with his parents in the Moree/Goondiwindi area.

Through his previous roles as Nufarm Australia territory sales manager and McGregor Gourlay Ag Services agronomist he worked with growers in the Gwydir and MacIntyre Valleys in northern NSW and southern Queensland.

Jack is a member of the Northern Grower Alliance (NGA) local consultative committee, Crop Consultants Association and former President of the MacIntyre Valley Cotton Field Day Committee.

The newly appointed panellists join returning panellists including Hunter Valley-based Mr Clark; Loretta Serafin, deputy panel chair and NSW Department of Primary Industries agronomist, Tamworth, NSW; Keith Harris, crop consultant to Romani Pastoral Co, Liverpool Plains, NSW; Will Martel, grower, Wellington, NSW; Rob Taylor, grower, Macalister, Queensland; John Sheppard, wheat breeder, Toowoomba, Queensland; and Steve Thomas, GRDC executive manager research programs, Canberra, ACT.

Jack Williamson Moree, NSW has joined the GRDC northern panel.

Mr Clark thanked outgoing panellists for their great commitment of time and dedication to the grains industry. They include Aaron Sanderson (2008-13), Jodi McLean (2008-13), Mark Sutherland (2011-13) and Vicki Green (2011-13).

GRDC’s regional panels in the northern (Dubbo, NSW to north Queensland), southern (southern NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania) and western (Western Australia) regions are renewed every two years.

For more information on GRDC-funded research, visit


Photo Caption: Jack Williamson, Moree, NSW has joined the GRDC northern panel.
Photo Caption: Newly appointed GRDC northern panellist Kelly Becker, Theodore, Qld.
Photo Caption: Penny Heuston: Warren, NSW agronomist. Penny Heuston has rejoined the GRDC northern panel after a two-year absence.

Contact Details

For Interviews
James Clark
GRDC Northern Panel Chair
0427 545 212

Rachel Bowman, Senior Consultant, Cox Inall Communications
07 3846 4380 0412 290 673

Region North