Industry snapshot - news in brief

Rust research appointment

Dr Will Cuddy is the new rust pathologist at the NSW Centre for Animal and Plant Biosecurity at Menangle, south-west of Sydney.

Dr Cuddy’s position is co-funded by the GRDC, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the University of Sydney. He replaces plant pathologist Dr Colin Wellings, who retired in 2012.

Dr Satendra Kumar, NSW DPI director of plant biosecurity, says Dr Cuddy will research new incursions and monitor the emergence of different stripe rust species. Dr Cuddy says a key part of his role will be conducting stripe rust surveys to keep track of which species of the rust fungus are occurring in Australian crops.

“I will be working with other agencies to improve the mapping and modelling potential of the stripe rust survey data,” Mr Cuddy says.

The Australian Cereal Rust Control Program is a joint venture between the GRDC, the NSW DPI and the University of Sydney that involves partnerships with the University of Adelaide, CSIRO Plant Industry and the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico.

More information:

Dr Will Cuddy
02 9351 8821

A photo of four men, one holding an award

Winners of the Daniel McAlpine DPI Science Excellence Award from the Horsham-based cereal crop pathology team: (from left) Graham Exell, Dr Mark McLean, Frank Henry and Dr Grant Hollaway

PHOTO: Simone Dalion 

Science Excellence Award

A cereal crop pathology team from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has won the Daniel McAlpine DPI Science Excellence Award.

The team of Dr Grant Hollaway, Dr Mark McLean, Frank Henry and Graham Exell won the award for their work on stubble-borne and rust diseases. Grain diseases cost the cereals industry about 20 per cent of the annual value of the nation’s wheat and barley crops. The team has been developing disease management strategies to help the grains industry reduce these losses. As part of this effort, the team has trained more than 150 agronomists in specialised disease-prevention skills in the past three years. The team also recently developed a crop disease smartphone app that helps growers and consultants identify crop varieties and their disease ratings.

The award honours plant pathologist Daniel McAlpine, who worked for the Victorian Department of Agriculture from 1890 to 1911.

Mr McAlpine was a key early influence on Australian agricultural science through his research into wheat rust, his classification of Australian smuts and his identification of Ophiobolus graminis (now Gaeumannomyces graminis) as the cause of the wheat disease take-all.

More information:

Pulse conference

Pulse Breeding Australia’s first national pulse conference will take place on 20 to 23 October in Adelaide. With the theme ‘Expanding Horizons’, the conference will look at ways to increase Australian pulse production to more than 15 per cent of the nation’s total cropping area. Keynote speakers will be Canadian pulse breeder Professor Bert Vandenberg, from the University of Saskatchewan, and International Pulse Trade and Industries Confederation president Hakan Bahceci.

More information:

Fleur Winter, Pulse Breeding Australia

Seed of Gold

Agricultural industry stalwart Geoff Thomas has become only the second person to receive a GRDC Seed of Gold award. The award recognises outstanding contribution to the Australian grains industry. It was  presented to Mr Thomas by the GRDC’s executive manager for regional grower services, Stuart Kearns, and GRDC Southern Regional Panel chairman, David Shannon, in April.

“There would not be too many people in the Australian grains industry and the broader agricultural sector who do not know Geoff or are aware of the work he has undertaken and the leading roles he has played,” Mr Kearns said.

“Geoff has been a powerful advocate for advancing agriculture through the uptake of improved knowledge, understanding, technology and farming systems.

“It is fitting that this Seed of Gold award – only the second to be presented in GRDC’s history – goes to someone whose contribution to agriculture has had an impact in just about every corner of the nation.”

More information:

Headshot of a man

Keith Pengilley

Southern panel chair

Tasmanian grower Keith Pengilley has been appointed the new chair of the GRDC Southern Regional Panel. He takes over from David Shannon, of South Australia, who has occupied the position for the past eight years. GRDC chairman Keith Perrett has congratulated Mr Pengilley on his appointment and paid tribute to Mr Shannon who is stepping down from panel duties after 15 years in total as a member and chair.

“Keith has been a member of the Southern Regional Panel for the past two years. He understands the GRDC’s strategic direction and its research, development and extension investment process, and through his close connection with a broad industry network, Keith is well placed to strengthen the links between the GRDC and its key stakeholders, particularly growers,” Mr Perrett said.

Mr Pengilley, 34, operates a large mixed-farming enterprise in Tasmania’s northern midlands, where grain production accounts for two-thirds of the family business.

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