New faces for southern regional cropping networks

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 08 Jan 2015

At a combined meeting of the RCSNs in 2014 were GRDC Southern Regional Panel member Susan Findlay Tickner (left) of Horsham (Victoria); low rainfall zone RCSN member Barry Mudge, Port Germein (SA); and Jen Lillecrapp of Struan (SA), who is a co-facilitator for both the HRZ and MRZ networks.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has announced new appointments to its southern Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSNs).

Two growers and a research agronomist have joined the RCSNs which help to inform investment in grains research, development and extension (RD&E) to address the priority issues and opportunities that affect crop production and profitability in the southern region (Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and central west and southern New South Wales).

The four networks – covering the low rainfall, medium rainfall, high rainfall and irrigation cropping zones – were established in 2012 to provide advice to the GRDC Southern Regional Panel.

Andrew Rice, GRDC Manager Regional Grower Services – South, has welcomed to the networks the three new members who join 39 other RCSNs members located across the southern region.

“The RCSNs members play an influential role in identifying local issues and providing the Panel with regional intelligence and support,” Mr Rice said. “We look forward to the contribution of the new members in terms of their unique insights and the set of skills and experience they each bring to the table.”

Holbrook (NSW) mixed farmer Tony Geddes has been appointed to the high rainfall zone (HRZ) RCSN. Mr Geddes is actively involved in a number of organisations, local RD&E projects, and is the chairman of the Holbrook Landcare Network.

Rohan Brill has been appointed to the medium rainfall zone (MRZ) network.  Based at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute, Mr Brill is a research agronomist and former district agronomist with NSW DPI and is also involved in his family's mixed farming business.

Also appointed to the MRZ RCSN is Andrew Russell who farms in the Browns Plains district of Victoria.  Mr Russell is a committee member, past chairman and a motivating force of the Riverine Plains Inc, and he has previously served on a Victorian Farmers Federation Research Advisory Committee. 

On behalf of the GRDC, Mr Rice thanked outgoing members Neil Vallance (HRZ) and Colin McMaster and Adam Inchbold (MRZ) for their contribution to the RCSNs initiative.

The networks consist of growers, farming systems groups representatives, consultants and other grains industry stakeholders and are led by four facilitators (Nigel Wilhelm in the LRZ, Jen Lillecrapp and Trent Potter in the HRZ, Rob Fisher in the Irrigation zone, and Tony Craddock and Jen Lillecrapp for the MRZ) and supported by the Panel and Mr Rice.

RCSN members provide essential on-ground linkages between growers, growers groups, agribusiness and researchers and the Panel to better plan and design local activities that will provide the greatest benefit to grain growers.

In 2014, 29 issues identified by the RCSNs were included in the 61 southern region issues prioritised by the Panel and put to the GRDC for proposed funding through the GRDC’s External Investment Plan for projects which will commence in July this year.

Among the issues identified by the RCSNs for inclusion in the 2015 investment plan are management of invertebrate pests, improving production on sandy soils in the low rainfall zone, more break crop options, increased inclusion of legumes in farming systems, durum wheat for irrigation, nitrogen management, correct crop sequences after rice under irrigation and management of foliar diseases in high potential canola crops in the HRZ.

Some issues identified by the RCSNs have been addressed through the GRDC’s new “fast track” funding process in which small scale, short time-frame and relatively small budget projects involving in-season responses are quickly activated.

These projects have looked at issues such as slug control and snail baiting, and have enabled herbicide resistance surveys to be carried out. Some of the data from the fast-track projects is also forming the foundation of information being used in larger GRDC investments.

The RCSNs had initially been particularly focused on aspects of crop protection and profitable farming systems but now their role is evolving and their attention is also turning to areas such as skills and capacity in the grains industry.

Opportunities to join the RCSNs will occur next year when applications will be sought from anyone interested in becoming a member of one of the four networks. Current members will be entitled to re-apply for a position.

More information about the RCSN initiative and contact details for facilitators can be found at

To view a video interview with GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley about the RCSNs, go to


For Interviews

Andrew Rice, GRDC

0427 965 469


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli

0409 675100


Caption: At a combined meeting of the RCSNs in 2014 were GRDC Southern Regional Panel member Susan Findlay Tickner (left) of Horsham (Victoria); low rainfall zone RCSN member Barry Mudge, Port Germein (SA); and Jen Lillecrapp of Struan (SA), who is a co-facilitator for both the HRZ and MRZ networks.

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