Grain industry salutes the Brownhill family

Author: Sarah Jeffrey | Date: 19 Aug 2015

Image of GRDC northern panel chair James Clark presenting Spring Ridge farmers Gordon and David Brownhill with the Bruce McClelland Memorial Award.

The Australian grain industry has paid homage to the exceptional achievements and industry contribution of Spring Ridge farmers David and Gordon Brownhill by awarding them the prestigious GRDC Northern region Bruce McClelland Memorial Award during a ceremony at AgQuip field days today.

Well-known for their pioneering work in zero tillage and controlled traffic farming and long term involvement in agricultural research, the Brownhills were presented with the award during an AgQuip breakfast hosted by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) at the NSW Farmers stand.

The Bruce McClelland Memorial Award recognises an individual or organisation for their commitment to enhance the long term sustainability and profitability of the grain industry through innovation, technology and development.

In presenting the award, GRDC northern panel chair James Clark said the Brownhills’ passion for innovation, research and industry development had helped transform the nature of farming in Australia.

“The Brownhills’ early adoption of controlled traffic, zero till farming techniques typified their approach to farming in general – when everyone said `you couldn’t’, they moved to 60 foot refusing to accept no for an answer,” Mr Clark said.

 “As an industry we are indebted to the Brownhill family for their willingness to trial new concepts, adopt new technologies and help find answers to some challenging production issues through their involvement in grains research.”

The Brownhills began farming in 1965 and within a few years had become involved in research with the University of New England and later with Sydney University.

Gordon began no tilling summer crops in 1980 and was one of the first famers to plant sunflower into sorghum no till country.

By the late 1980s he was experimenting with no tilling winter crops and this quest led the brothers build a machine known commercially as The Groundhound planter in 1984 which was used to plant winter crops into heavy sorghum stubble.

David attended University before returning home in 1991. He undertook a Nuffield Scholarship in 1997 and has since gone on to hold roles with the state, national executive, board chair and governance/finance Committee of Nuffield.

David saw the Weedseeker machine in California in 1998 and the Brownhills imported the first machine in 2001. After just one year of sales in Australia, it was estimated that the Weedseeker had generated an impressive $20-25 million in chemical savings.

David also sits on the RAS foundational board, is a regular presenter at the GRDC Grains Research Updates, been a member of GRDC Update committees and presented at ABARES and the Oxford Conference on Australian Agriculture. Gordon has held the position of Chair of AMPS Research since 2005.

The family’s farming operation has grown significantly over the past 25 years, expanding from 1000 hectares in the 1990s to its current size of over 6500ha of dryland and irrigation farming.

Contact Details 

For Interviews

James Clark, GRDC Northern Panel Chair
0427 545 212


Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152859

Region North