Grower-driven research a priority for panellist
Author: Natalie Lee | Date: 19 Dec 2013
Reflecting on the past 18 months as a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) western regional panellist, Susan Hall doesn’t hesitate to name its main achievements in this period.
“One is being very much in touch with our key stakeholders in the grains industry, particularly growers,” she said.
“Members of the GRDC western panel are spending a lot of time talking and consulting with growers to make sure that we know what their priorities are for research, development and extension (RD&E).
“Growers increasingly have a direct role in determining the focus and outputs of the projects in which the GRDC invests, as a result of close consultation through the panel and the Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSNs).”
Ms Hall said another significant achievement by the panel had been key investments made by the GRDC in the past 12 months, which had resulted from the heightened grower consultation.
“We’re focusing on tackling some of the big issues in Western Australia like frost, non-wetting soils and soil acidity - with large-scale investments that will really make an impact for the grower,” she said.
“My background and interest in research extension means I am focused on making sure that these investments have a really strong component aimed at getting research outcomes to growers to help them make changes on-farm to increase their profitability.”
Ms Hall said that from the time when projects were first developed, the panel made sure there was a focus on how messages would get through to growers.
“Growers are involved from the start of the project, if necessary, so they get to have some influence in what is being researched or demonstrated, to make sure it is relevant to them,” she said.
Ms Hall said she had originally applied for a position on the panel because she had always been passionate about the grains industry and opportunities within it.
“I also feel that what the GRDC does is really unique in the global grains sector,” she said.
“Being a part of the panel is a great opportunity to provide industry input into where research, development and extension (RD&E) dollars are spent to the advantage of growers in WA.”
Ms Hall brings to the panel experience in research extension and an interest in capacity building - understanding the obstacles stopping the grains industry from achieving improved grower profitability, and addressing them.
Originally from a farm at Quairading, Susan has worked in recent years as the project leader of the Grower Group Alliance, which connects grower groups, research organisations and agribusinesses in WA.
She has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from The University of Western Australia.
“My broad network – particularly with WA growers - across the RD&E sectors means I can liaise with all of them and know what their priorities and needs are, especially in the area of research extension,” she said.
“I’ve also got a strong interest in corporate governance – to help make sure that what the western panel does is carried out correctly.
Ms Hall said the benefits of being on the panel included gaining a much broader perspective of where RD&E dollars were spent and how this investment flowed on to growers.
“It’s a great privilege being on the western panel,” she said.
“You get to work with a really great group of people both within the GRDC and within the industry.
“The GRDC has an extensive investment portfolio and being able to understand how these investments can work to the advantage of WA growers and increase their profitability has been the biggest learning for me as a western panellist.”
Ms Hall said the GRDC regional panels played a vital role in linking the organisation to growers, researchers, scientists, agribusiness and grower groups, and the appointment of skilled people to the panels was crucial to the GRDC’s success.
“We’re really fortunate to have such a broad range of skills and people on the western panel and it’s very important to have that range because we bring with us such as broad range of perspectives,” she said.
“This mix of people means the panel is able to understand all the perspectives of the needs for RD&E in WA.
“I think the panel also has a really good grasp on what is important for growers in WA and has the skills to turn that into research investments for the GRDC.”
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Natalie Lee Cox Inall Communications
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