Agricultural scientists honoured

Photo of Dr Nigel Wilhelm

Winner of the Ag Institute of Australia
Fellowship Award is SARDI research
leader Dr Nigel Wilhelm.

The Ag Institute Australia has awarded two Fellowship Awards to grains researchers Dr Nigel Wilhelm and Martin Collett. The awards recognise outstanding achievements in agriculture.

Dr Wilhelm has spent his career working for the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), while Mr Collett has worked in the private sector with Agrisearch Services. He is now chairman and managing director of the Agrisearch group of companies, the largest independent contract and biological research team in the Asia–Pacific region.

Dr Wilhelm, who leads SARDI’s Farming Systems Research, was cited for his expertise in low-rainfall farming, crop nutrition, tillage, rotations and integrated farming, and his ability to communicate with growers.

He also leads the Regional Cropping Solutions Network for low-rainfall areas, part of a GRDC initiative that helps identify issues at the farm level, bringing scientists, growers and consultants together.

Dr Wilhelm says he still likes working on fertiliser management: “All the time you’re thinking ‘how does this relate to the bigger picture, how does this fit into a whole farm where you are managing not just fertilisers, but also livestock and break crops and succession planning and natural resource management issues, everything that a farm takes on’.”

Dr Wilhelm says he has seen massive improvements in crop productivity and protection of the landscape in the past 20 years with the widespread adoption of no-till farming. He nominates the unrolling of the electronic age as the other big factor, with growers now able to adjust fertiliser or management decisions according to the actual zone in the paddock. He says this is why so many growers have survived the recent dry years, when similar conditions 30 years ago would have resulted in disaster.

He thinks the big challenges to face his next 20 years will be climate change and the end to what he calls the ‘golden era’ of agrichemicals.

Mr Collett, who is based in Orange, New South Wales, joined Agrisearch Services in 1977 to expand its research services in public and environmental health, and ectoparasite control in sheep and cattle. His expertise extends from crop protection in grains, horticulture, cotton and turf, to animal health and plant breeding, residue testing and regulatory affairs.

In nominating him for the award, former Ag Institute Australia president Geoff Thomas said the growth and success of Agrisearch had been largely built around the drive, expertise and integrity of Mr Collett: “He has played an important role in the development of the agricultural science profession through his activities at local and national levels with the Ag Institute Australia.”

More information:

Dr Nigel Wilhelm
08 8303 9353,


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