New regional managers to help research and development uptake

Sharon O'Keeffe, GRDC manager regional grower services - north.

The GRDC has recently appointed three regional managers – Darren Hughes, Sharon O’Keeffe and Andrew Rice – to speed the delivery of research outcomes to growers.

The new positions were created to help identify regional research, development and extension (RD&E) needs, manage the regional delivery of information, oversee regionally specific research and promote the GRDC’s products and services.

They will also strengthen links between GRDC panels, researchers, advisers and growers.


Sharon O’Keeffe is keen to meet as many growers as possible in her new role as manager regional grower services – north, based at Boggabri, New South Wales.

Before her appointment, Ms O’Keeffe worked for Landmark, managing its agronomic and farm services for northern NSW and Queensland.

As an agronomist working in the northern grains region she understands that helping growers make profitable crop management decisions requires good strategic research and extension.

With a passion for the grains industry, Ms O’Keeffe is enjoying the opportunity to contribute to the development of the GRDC’s research programs.

Based in the region, she is in continuous contact with growers, researchers and grower groups including the Northern Grower Alliance led by Richard Daniel, Grain Orana Alliance led by Maurie Street and the central-Queensland Grower Solutions Group led by Richard Sequeira.

Another aspect of her role is keeping an eye on regionally specific research projects to ensure they are designed to deliver tangible benefits to northern growers.

Ms O’Keeffe is positive about the northern grains industry, citing its world-class researchers, adaptive growers and passionate adviser network as crucial to ensuring crop production is viable well into the future. 


Andrew Rice, GRDC, manager regional grower services - South

Andrew Rice is the new GRDC
manager regional grower services
- south.

Former agribusiness consultant and agronomist Andrew Rice is the new GRDC manager regional grower services – south.

As an active partner in his family’s farm at Parkes, New South Wales, Mr Rice has developed a solid understanding of growers’ needs. He has an extensive network of contacts within the region, having spent six years on the GRDC’s Southern Panel.

In his new role, he is looking forward to facilitating the regional adaptation of the GRDC’s research and development products to speed uptake on-farm.

Working with members of the Southern Panel and the newly created Regional Cropping Solutions Networks, Mr Rice will help plan research to ensure all the GRDC’s southern region investments are focused on grower needs at a local level.

Part of his role will be liaising with advisers to ensure they have the research information and resources needed to be more profitable now and over the longer term.

“I want to work very hard within GRDC to give growers every chance at success in the way we offer tools and technologies,” he says.

He is aware of the challenges facing southern growers, with their focus on winter cropping, and hopes to assist in helping growers structure their businesses to cope with a trend for increasing out-of-season rainfall.


Perth-based Dr Darren Hughes is the new GRDC manager regional grower services – west.

Having worked on farms as an agronomist and researcher and as a member of the GRDC Western Region Panel, Dr Hughes says he is enjoying his new role and welcomes contact from growers.

As well as keeping abreast of western region research, Dr Hughes will be focused on improving the GRDC’s extension and communication activities in Western Australia.

Darren Hughes, GRDC, manager grower services - west.

Darren Hughes is the new GRDC manager regional
grower services - west.

He wants to ensure the products and services of the GRDC’s investments, particularly those from national research projects, are effectively delivered on-farm. “For example, when new germplasm is developed we need to ensure breeders pick it up quickly for inclusion in varieties that are regionally adapted to WA,” he says.

Another aspect of his work is collaborating with WA’s Regional Cropping Solutions Networks to identify RD&E priorities.

He says some of the priorities already identified are focused around weed control, water-repellent soils, water use efficiency, Yield Prophet®, frost, improving cereal yields, genetics, disease management, nutrition and soil acidity.

More information:

Sharon O’Keeffe,
0409 279 328,

Andrew Rice,
0427 965 469,

Darren Hughes,
0409 249 420,

Region North, South