Global learning informs approach to local issues

Author: Bill Ryan | Date: 27 Jan 2015

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By GRDC western regional panel member Bill Ryan

How can grain growers best manage large broadacre farms to ensure profitability?

Which practices can help them cope with a drying climate?

What are the most effective ways of delivering information to growers in order to achieve practice change?

These are some of the questions being investigated by Western Australian growers who have received a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)-sponsored GRDC Nuffield scholarship.

Support for these scholarships - which foster the professional development of innovative young Australian growers who can go on to become industry leaders - is an integral part of the GRDC’s investment in grains industry capacity building.

Study topics chosen by Grains Nuffield scholars are typically close to their hearts - and also relevant to their farming peers - and the scholarships help to expose them to a worldwide network of other leading growers.

South Stirling grower Reece Curwen was one of four GRDC-supported 2015 Grains Nuffield scholars announced recently. He will use his scholarship to investigate how good management of broadacre farming enterprises can ensure productivity and profitability.

While Mr Curwen says farm scale is naturally important, he will focus on the dynamics between broadacre farming and the management systems used to maximise productivity – as staff, plant and finance demands pose challenges for those managing large properties.

Three of the four GRDC-supported 2014 Grains Nuffield scholars were from WA and research into their respective topics is well underway.

Kalannie grower Bob Nixon is researching techniques and crop rotations for coping with a drying climate.

According to Mr Nixon, “the answer must lie in making the most of available research and development, and ensuring we get the best outcome we can from available moisture”.

More information on Mr Nixon’s farming operation and scholarship is available at

Nick Gillett, a Bencubbin grower and a GRDC Kwinana East Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) representative, is using his scholarship to look specifically at improving crop germination and yield in a drying climate.

Chris Reichstein, who farms at Esperance and is also represented on his region’s RCSN, is investigating how to best deliver information to growers which will result in improved farming practices and profitability and sustainability.

Some of the research findings from WA Grains Nuffield scholars will be presented at the 2015 Agribusiness Crop Updates, to be held in Perth on February 24 and 25. For more information about and to register online for this event, supported by the GRDC and the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) go to or 

Nuffield Australia provides an opportunity to Australian farmers to travel overseas on an agricultural research scholarship. It is a 16-week program consisting of both group and individual travel.

The 2016 round of Nuffield scholarships opens in April, 2014.

More information about the scholarships is available at


Contact Details

For Interviews

Bill Ryan, GRDC western panel
0409 791 997


Melissa Williams, Cox Inall Communications
0428 884 414

GRDC Project Code NUF00009

Region West