Cereal disease expert recognised for communication efforts

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 26 Feb 2015

Seed of Light 2015

One of Australia’s most respected cereal disease experts has been officially recognised for his efforts and achievements in communicating the outcomes of research.

Dr Hugh Wallwork has been named the recipient of the 2015 Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Region Seed of Light award which acknowledges outstanding effort in communicating research outcomes.

The Seed of Light award was presented to Dr Wallwork, cereal pathology principal scientist with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), at the GRDC grains research Update in Adelaide this week.

In presenting the award, GRDC Southern Regional Panel member Richard Konzag said Dr Wallwork’s contribution and commitment to the grains industry deserved official acknowledgement.

“During a distinguished career spanning three decades, Dr Wallwork has played an influential role in the management of disease on cropping properties across Australia through the delivery of high-impact publications and communications, his willingness to share his wealth of knowledge and his contribution to the development of cereal cultivars with genetic resistance,” Mr Konzag said.

“He has also developed many efficient, reliable and highly-regarded disease screening methods for a range of diseases.”

These methods have been used to ensure growers have access to high-quality disease ratings to assist with on-farm disease management and to support plant breeders with access to high quality disease screening methods for resistant cultivar development.

“Dr Wallwork first joined SARDI in 1984 after completing a post-doctoral fellowship researching resistance to take-all in wheat and since then has been instrumental in identification of new and emerging threats to the SA grains industry,” Mr Konzag said.

“The most recent example of this was the identification of the white grain syndrome caused by the Botryosphaeria fungus.”

Dr Wallwork has made an outstanding long-term commitment to delivering timely and relevant information on management of cereal diseases to the grains industry nationally.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel member Bill Long said during the award presentation that Dr Wallwork’s annually published Cereal Disease Guide was a key example of his ability to translate complex and comprehensive scientific information into an easily digestible form that underpins development of on-farm disease management plans.

“I’m sure all of you in this room have used information from the disease guide to assist in cereal variety selection and the development of disease management plans,” Mr Long told the Update audience of 370 agronomists, consultants, researchers, growers and other grains industry personnel.

“The scientific data collected and used to develop the South Australian guide is also freely shared and used nationally to assist farmers across Australia with the selection of the most resistant cultivars for their farms.

“Further to this, his two books Cereal Root and Crown Diseases and Cereal Leaf and Stem Diseases are key reference tools used by growers, agronomists and scientists for the identification of diseases of cereals.”

Dr Wallwork’s annual Cereal Seed Treatment Guide is another example of his initiative in the provision of disease management advice to industry in a practical manner.

“Dr Wallwork’s role in the development and delivery of the Crop Watch Newsletter is also to be commended. The effectiveness of this communication method has been used as a model by other states,” Mr Long said.

“Embracing online social networking, alerts from this newsletter are now broadcast through Facebook and Twitter.”

A recent GRDC-commissioned review of national pathology programs singled out Dr Wallwork’s contribution, with the review panel of senior pathologists stating that he had been “a consistent and strong performer in the area of cereal fungal diseases and contributes to fundamental knowledge, resistance management in plant breeding programs and engagement with agronomists and farmers around practical disease management.

“He has been very proactive with disease monitoring and identifying virulence change, and in the management of emerging issues. Dr Wallwork has a strong record of publication in peer-reviewed journals. He is well known for his forthright opinion and has been a strong campaigner for minimum disease standards,” the review panel members stated.

It is considered that without Dr Wallwork’s active campaign to maintain standards, the cost to Australian growers in lost production and reliance on fungicides would be significant.

The southern Seed of Light Award is presented each year to an individual voted upon by the GRDC Southern Regional Panel.


For Interviews

Hugh Wallwork, SARDI

08 8303 9382


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli

0409 675100

Caption: Seed of Light award recipient Hugh Wallwork (second from left), is congratulated by GRDC Southern Regional Panel members Mark Stanley (left), Bill Long and Richard Konzag.

Region South