We want you: GRDC seeks input on research priorities

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 26 Aug 2016

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley says the RCSNs have been of enormous value to the GRDC and the broader grains industry in terms of ensuring grower levies target priority areas, now and in the future.

Victorian grain growers, researchers, farm advisers, consultants and agribusiness professionals are being encouraged to put up their hands and help shape future grains research, development and extension investments.

Industry personnel have until September 2 to nominate to become a member of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Southern Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSNs).

Rutherglen mixed farmer Andrew Russell has been a member of the medium rainfall zone RCSN for the past two years and says the experience has been a richly rewarding one.

He took on the role as he believed he had “something to give” based on his extensive background in diversified farm production, marketing and packaging and his passion for business health and sustainability.

“I am also extremely interested in the betterment of grain growers and that is what the RCSNs concept is all about. I have been exceptionally happy to be an ambassador for the GRDC.”

Mr Russell said it was important that research not be undertaken simply for the sake of research, but rather that research be focused on making a difference, especially for levy-paying grain growers.

“It’s about getting more bang for your buck. Research must be outcome-driven – I want results that are going to help me, my neighbours and our bottom lines.”

Mr Russell said the RCSNs acted as an important two-way conduit between growers and the GRDC, playing a critical role in the identification of emerging cropping constraints at a local level.

“We are a dynamic group of people – growers, agronomists and advisers – with a common interest in the greater good of the cropping fraternity. We can see potential problems early and be influential in ensuring that funding is directed into those areas of need. So when things become an issue, we’ve already done the groundwork and we’re a step ahead.”

In this changing world, Mr Russell acknowledges many factors that affect grain growers’ profit margins are beyond their control. “So we need to be forward thinking, embrace technology and adopt the best outcomes from the best research. Putting theory into practice is where the challenges lie.”

On a personal level, Mr Russell said the peer-to-peer learning of being an RCSN member had been of enormous value.

“The people you mix with on the RCSNs are leaders in their fields – they are people I have got a lot out of. You learn from your peers, so it is rewarding on a self-development level.”

While being an RCSN member does not entail a significant amount of time, Mr Russell has made a concerted effort to be well connected, represent his area and promote his role. “My involvement in Riverine Plains Inc, the local fire brigade and council has helped in that regard.”

Mr Russell is strongly encouraging young people, particularly, to consider becoming an RCSN member: “I would like to see young growers with fire in their blood to step up and nominate. It’s a great opportunity for young people for self-development and to have a mix of old heads and new heads is always good.”

The southern region RCSNs were established four years ago to further ensure grower levies are targeted to address major production constraints and opportunities in the GRDC southern region (comprising South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania).

The RCSNs provide advice to the GRDC Manager Regional Grower Services, Craig Ruchs, and the Southern Regional Panel on local grain production constraints, opportunities and how best to tackle them. They also assess the effectiveness and impact of existing research, development and extension (RD&E) activities in the southern region and provide recommendations for continual improvement.

Each of the three networks comprise 12 members and are focused on farming systems in a particular production zone – low rainfall, medium rainfall and high rainfall. Members liaise closely with, and represent, the wider grains community in their respective zone.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley says the RCSNs have been of enormous value to the GRDC and the broader grains industry in terms of ensuring grower levies target priority areas, now and in the future.

“Having the RCSN members spread right across the southern cropping region allows the Southern Panel to have more touch points with industry and with growers,” Mr Pengilley said.

“Being a member of the RCSNs is not an onerous task but taking on such a role brings a great deal of satisfaction as members contribute to bringing forward research priorities that have the potential to boost growers’ profitability.”

Applications for RCSN membership close on September 2, 2016, with appointments being for a two-year term, commencing November this year.

More information about the RCSN initiative and how to apply to become a member are available at https://grdc.com.au/Apply/Current-Tenders.

To view a video of Mr Pengilley discussing the RCSNs initiative, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIFBbFQmsic.

For Interviews

Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Panel
0448 015539

Andrew Russell, RCSN member
0417 401004


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

Region South