Ed recognised for outstanding grains research communication

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 07 Feb 2017

Ed Hunt (right), an agricultural consultant, researcher and grower from Wharminda on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, receives the 2017 Grains Research and Development Corporation Southern Region Seed of Light award from GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley.

Ed recognised for outstanding grains research communication A well respected agricultural consultant, researcher and grower from Wharminda on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has been officially recognised for his efforts and achievements in communicating the outcomes of research.

Ed Hunt has been named the recipient of the 2017 Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Region Seed of Light award which acknowledges outstanding effort in the extension of GRDC-supported grains research outcomes.

The Seed of Light award, voted upon by the GRDC Southern Regional Panel, was presented to Mr Hunt at the GRDC Grains Research Update in Adelaide (SA) this week.

In presenting the award, GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley said the 2017 award recognised the significant contribution by a non-traditional researcher who is a leader in farm business management and has gone “above and beyond” to communicate the outcomes of his research.

“Ed’s unique skills and attributes first came to the GRDC’s attention a decade ago when he became involved in research projects that were established by the GRDC in response to a need to improve farmers’ capacity to manage the profitability, risk and long-term sustainability of high-intensity farming systems in lower rainfall regions,” Mr Pengilley said.

“Ed was a leader in projects that evaluated adaptive farm systems using a case study farm and then developed simple approaches which farmers could use to help their decision making, especially in the face of continuing uncertain seasons and profit margins.”

Being a farmer in a low rainfall environment himself and having had to live and manage through extended drought, Mr Hunt has had valuable personal experience to draw upon in terms of developing resilient and profitable farming systems.

“As a professional consultant, he has been able to go one step further by evaluating a range of farming systems and observing risk management attitudes and behaviours of clients and incorporating their experiences into his analysis and messages,” Mr Pengilley said.

The projects generated important key messages for farmers in low rainfall areas, including:

  • Profitability and risk are driven largely by a combination of soil type, associated enterprise mix, level of debt, machinery investment and land purchases;
  • There is no best bet farming system. Successful farming depends on factors within each system such as labour, skills, soil type and rainfall;
  • Continuous cropping in low rainfall environments can be high risk when consecutive poor seasons strike – a livestock enterprise provides a buffer in tough times.

“These key messages influenced a shift in industry thinking – that productivity through chasing maximum yields was not a sustainable measure of success, rather the focus should be on profit and using basic models for risk management,” Mr Pengilley said.

“The work undertaken by Ed during these research projects produced foundational principles that were to underpin farm business management investments going forward.

“His success in this field is attributed to his knowledge and experience as both a consultant and farmer in a low rainfall environment and using this to deliver practical profitability comparisons of low rainfall farming systems with those in medium to high rainfall regions.

“He also has an ability for clever analysis and a resolute determination to find practical solutions to complex problems.”

Mr Hunt, who graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from New Zealand’s Lincoln University in 1979 and now has his own Ed Hunt Consulting business, has been well received as a speaker at GRDC Farm Business Updates and Grains Research Updates across the southern cropping region over recent years. 

“Ed has gained respect in the consultant and researcher community for his ability to challenge thinking and shape research questions that have impacted on the direction of low rainfall research in the southern region in areas such as crop nutrition and root diseases and their management,” Mr Pengilley said.

“And his farmer-friendly way of communicating important research outcomes to our primary producers makes him a truly deserving recipient of this year’s Seed of Light award.”

For Interviews

Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Panel
0448 015 539

Ed Hunt, Ed Hunt Consulting
0428 289028


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

Region South