New regional panels appointed
GroundCover™ Issue: 106
Southern Regional Panel
Keith is the general manager of a dryland and irrigated family farming operation at Conara in the northern Midlands of Tasmania, operating an 8300-hectare mixed farming operation over four properties. He is a Director of Tasmanian Agricultural Producers Pty Ltd, a grain accumulation, storage, marketing and export business.
M 0448 015 539
Dr Chris Blanchard
Chris is an Associate Professor in Food Science at Charles Sturt University’s School of Biomedical Sciences in Wagga Wagga and has an honours degree in applied science, a PhD in molecular biology and qualifications in teaching and management. His research has included projects in genetically engineering plants, human genetic diseases, grain quality and the development of functional food ingredients.
T 02 6933 2364
M 0438 662 992
Neil FettellBased at Condobolin in the central-west of NSW, Neil is an authority on cropping and tillage systems, stubble and soil management and crop physiology. A University of New England part-time lecturer in crop production, he also assists the Central West Farming Systems group and previously led grain research projects across the southern region.
M 0427 201 939
Susan Findlay Tickner
Susan is a partner in Yellow Grain Pty Ltd, an innovative and expanding dryland cropping enterprise producing cereals, pulses and oilseeds near Warracknabeal in north-west Victoria. She has a background in science communication, specialising in grains and climate research, development and extension. Susan has a masters in communication, a diploma in corporate governance and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.
M 0428 622 352
Richard has been a grain grower at Mallala, in South Australia’s Lower North, since 1981. He is currently cropping about 1800 hectares to wheat, durum, barley, beans, lentils, canola and oaten hay. He has served on the SA Advisory Board of Agriculture, representing the board on various forums and committees and chairing its ‘Achieving an Informed and Supportive Government’ working group. Richard has also served on the Plant Biosecurity CRC Grains Advisory panel since 2008.
M 0417 830 406
Bill is an agricultural consultant and farmer on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. He has led and been involved in many research, development and extension programs and was one of the founding members of the Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils Group and chairman of the Ag Excellence Alliance. He has a strong interest and involvement in farm business management and communication programs within the GRDC. He is a Churchill fellow.
M 0417 803 034
Geoff runs an irrigated cropping farm near Finley in southern NSW. The farm produces a range of winter cereal, oilseed and grain legume crops and soybeans using both overhead and surface irrigation systems. Geoff has a degree in agricultural science and 30 years’ experience with irrigated and dryland farming systems in southern Australia. Geoff is a board member of SoyAustralia and chairman of Southern Growers, a local grower group in the southern Riverina. Geoff also provides consultancy services to government, industry and catchment management authorities related to land and water management.
M 0427 833 261
John runs a mixed broadacre farming business and an agricultural consultancy, Agriculture and General Consulting, at Barmedman in south-west NSW. John is the chairman of the district council of the NSW Farmers Association, deputy chair of the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority and a winner of the Central West Conservation Farmer of the Year award.M 0428 763 023
From Swan Hill in north-west Victoria, Rob is an extension agronomist who has specialised within government agencies in the areas of soil conservation, resource conservation and dryland farming systems. Over some three decades he has been privileged to have had access to many farmers, businesses, consultants, rural industry and agribusiness advisers. Rob also has been closely involved in rural recovery and emergency response into issues as diverse as locusts, fire, mice, flood and drought. Rob is currently employed part-time within the Mallee consultancy group AGRIvision.M 0407 359 982
Mark has had extensive experience in field crops development and extension and, more recently, in natural resources management with the state and federal governments and with industry. He has led a number of extension programs including the introduction of canola in South Australia and the national TOPCROP program. He currently operates his own project management business, Regional Connections, on SA’ Eyre Peninsula. Mark is the executive officer of Ag Excellence Alliance, supporting farming systems groups across SA, and is also on the board of the Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation. He is a committee member of the Lower Eyre Agricultural Development Association.M 0427 831 151
Stuart joined the GRDC in 1998 as the Northern Panel officer and has worked in a number of roles throughout the organisation since then. He is currently the executive manager regional grower services. The aim of the Regional Grower Services Business Group is to deliver new, innovative, high-value and improved regionally relevant products and services that meet the needs of growers and their advisers.T 02 6166 4500
Southern Panel Support
Belinda Cay (formerly Barr)Belinda and the Raising the Barr (RTB) team are a communication company that design creative science education programs and corporate exhibits, plus offer media, marketing, facilitation and communication services. She has a bachelor of science (honours) and a graduate diploma in scientific communication. RTB provides panel support services to the Southern Regional Panel.
M 0423 295 576
Western Regional Panel
Peter RobertsThe main focus of Peter’s 2000ha farm at Dunn Rock, near Lake King in south-central WA, is cereal production. This is his second term on the Western Panel but first term as chairman. He is a director of Barley Australia and chairman of the Grain Industry Association of WA’s (GIWA) Barley Receival Standards Committee. Peter is passionate about R&D and believes that innovation is the key to productivity and sustainability.
M 0428 389 060
Dr Mike Ewing
Mike has been CEO of CLIMA, deputy director of the Salinity CRC and research director of the Future Farm Industries CRC. Currently, he works part-time for the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA (DAFWA) and is enthusiastic about his role on the Western Panel.
M 0409 116 750
Dr Bill RyanBill has worked in agriculture all his professional life. He has a thorough understanding of R&D in both private and public sectors. He spent 21 years with the WA Department of Agriculture and then seven years with the Heytesbury Group. He was CEO of the Kondinin Group from 2003–08. He chairs the Agricultural Produce Commission and is a consultant to AGWEST International.
M 0409 791 997
John was a chartered practising accountant for 20 years and a partner in a mainly rural practice at Northam. In 2009, he switched to farming full-time on a mixed sheep and grain property between Goomalling and Calingiri. As a GRDC panel member, John aims to promote investments that will improve the profitability and quality of life of WA’s grain growers.
M 0429 689 885
Shauna StoneShauna’s family farm, located south-east of Quairading in WA’s central wheatbelt, crops 3500 hectares of cereals and canola. She is a member of the Corrigin Farm Improvement Group and the WA No-Tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA).
M 0429 455 218
Paul and his wife Sue have farmed in the Mingenew–Irwin area for the past 35 years. He is past vice-president of the Mingenew–Irwin Group and a reference member of the state-based Farmsafe organisation. Paul is passionate about farming and its future and has a special interest in promoting lupins.
M 0427 275 022
Christopher (Kit) LeakeKit, based in Perth, grows wheat, barley, lupins and canola on the family property at Kellerberrin, which is managed by his son-in-law. He is a member of the Kellerberrin Demonstration Group, and has a keen interest in improving long-term profitability and productivity.
M 0428 459 031
Susan is the project leader of the GRDC-supported Grower Group Alliance, chair of HARVEST – Young Agri-Food Professionals Network, a committee member of the Australian Grains Institute (WA) and a member of APEN. She is passionate about contributing to the development of a skills base for agriculture and has a keen interest in change management, leadership and capacity skills, as well as social entrepreneurship and innovation.
M 0400 889 036
Chris WilkinsChris, based in Badgingarra, WA, is a well-known WA agronomic and agribusiness adviser. Chris said he was excited to join this dynamic group in helping to shape GRDC’s research and extension activities to meet the needs of WA grain growers. He has 22 years’ experience in WA’s agricultural industry, including offering farm business, agronomy, farming systems and crop protection advice through his Vision Agribusiness Services company for the past 15 years. Chris is also a director of one of WA’s leading agricultural consultancy businesses, Synergy Consulting WA, the deputy chairman of the Council of Grain Grower Organisations Ltd (COGGO) and a member of new WA Agriculture Minister Ken Baston’s Ministerial Agricultural Advisory Council.
M 0427 940 925
Andreas has a technical background in genetics, microbiology, biochemistry and plant molecular biology. His previous career before joining the GRDC was dedicated to research and its management. Andreas joined the GRDC as program manager for the National Variety Trials (NVT) in 2004 and in late 2005 he managed the GRDC’s pre-breeding investments in the new Gene Discovery portfolio. In August 2009 he took on the responsibility of the Wheat and Barley Breeding portfolio and in 2012 became the senior manager for Commercial Enterprises.
T 02 6166 4500
Western Panel Support
Sally runs Sowing Seeds, a regional development business. She works primarily with farm and rural community groups to turn ideas into action by providing coordination, facilitation and administration support services. She provides panel support services to the Western Regional Panel.
M 0417 983 356
Northern regional Panel
James lives in the NSW Hunter Valley and brings to the panel his extensive experience in both dryland and irrigated farming in the North Star area of northern NSW. James is a longstanding member of the northern panel, serving as a panellist since 2005 and chair since 2008. He says the role of the panel is to capture growers’ priorities, realise them into a pipeline of investments and empower growers to take up production gain opportunities as they arise. He believes strongly that the grains industry needs to continue to build future RD&E capacity and capability to service its needs going forward and ensure growers remain as competitive as possible.
M 0427 545 212
Loretta SerafinLoretta is an experienced agronomist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) in Tamworth, NSW. She is currently acting technical specialist for northern farming systems and provides support to growers, industry and agronomists. With more than 12 years as district agronomist in north-west NSW, Loretta has developed a passion for helping growers improve their farm efficiency and specialises in summer crops. Loretta sees it as critical for growers and advisers to engage with the panel. She views her role as a conduit between growers and the GRDC to ensure that the needs of growers are being met.
M 0427 311 819
Jack operates as a private agricultural consultant and runs a broadacre commodity production farm with his parents, Peter and Annette, in Goondiwindi. Previous roles as a territory sales manager for Nufarm and as a commercial agronomist for McGregor Gourlay Ag services have given Jack a vast knowledge of farming systems, as well as diverse crop management and field work experience. Jack is a member of the Northern Grower Alliance (NGA) local consultative committee, Crop Consultants Association and is the former president of the MacIntyre Valley Cotton Field Day Committee.
M 0438 907 820
John SheppardJohn brings a wealth of practical farming experience and his perspective as a wheat breeder to the panel, where he has served since 2006. John views the panel as an opportunity for growers and professionals to shape the future of their industry, not only in developing best management practices but also in developing varieties and new products. He is particularly interested in genotype by environment interaction and the preservation of genetic resources.
M 0418 746 628
Jules is AMPS research manager and a passionate agronomy consultant, communicator and industry advocate. Her role sees her involved in the development and expansion of the fully self-funded privatised research, development and extension organisation. Her experience in project management and strategic development extends across all facets of an integrated grains business. She has an established network in eastern Australia and WA, including researchers, leading growers, agronomy consultants and commercial industry.
M 0429 494 067
Keith HarrisKeith has served on the Northern Panel since 2011 and brings more than 30 years’ in property management. Keith is based on the Liverpool Plains, NSW, and consults to Romani Pastoral Company on management of its historic holdings ‘Windy Station’ and ‘Warrah’, near Quirindi. He sees the main aim of the panel to represent growers and conduct research that allows growers the tools they need to maximise property performance and minimise risk.
M 0428 157 754
Based in Theodore, Queensland, Kelly is a former field marketing agronomist for AgnVet Agribusiness and experienced agronomist. Kelly is a certified mungbean and chickpea agronomist and also consults with growers on the production of wheat, corn and sorghum crops. She has been involved with variety trials on a commercial basis and industry farm practice trials. Kelly’s role as an agronomist sees her communicating frequently with growers. She strives to be proactive within the industry and assist growers improve farming operations by ensuring that they are up-to-date with new practices and technology.
M 0409 974 007
Penny HeustonPenny brings extensive experience to the Northern Panel and returns for her second term on the panel after a two-year break. Penny is committed to maximising the profitability of grain production in a lower-rainfall environment via increased productivity, taking costs and risks into account. She operated a farm advisory business in central-west NSW for a decade before joining Delta Agribusiness. Penny focuses on the Warren, Nyngan, Tottenham and Gilgandra areas and has also spent considerable time working with growers at Bourke, Coonamble, Hillston and Condobolin.
M 0428 474 845
Rob is a graingrower at Macalister on Queensland’s Darling Downs. Rob is former chair of the Darling Downs RAC, director of Condamine Alliance CMA, a Southern Queensland Farming Systems Steering Committee member and a Steering Committee BYMP Grains Queensland member. Rob is currently chair of the agrifoods skills initiative for the Western Downs Regional Council area. Rob farms 2300 hectares including leased farming country on the Jimbour Plain and grows maize as well as sorghum in summer, plus winter rotation crops of wheat, barley and chickpeas. Rob views his role on the panel as taking information and feedback from growers and researchers back to the GRDC.
M 0427 622 203
Will MartelCentral NSW grower Will has served on the Northern Panel since 2011. With previous experience in a grain trading company in Quirindi, he joined the Brisbane office of Resource Consulting Services (RCS). During his time with RCS, Will benchmarked more than 400 growers across Australia on their performance, focusing on profitability across the farm rather than individual gross margins per enterprise. His main focus on the panel is looking at investment areas that are going to benefit growers to keep them economically and environmentally sustainable.
M 0427 466 245
Steve joined the GRDC in early 2009 as executive manager practices, coming from a senior position with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) at Orange. He sees the GRDC’s role is to interact with growers regularly to determine their needs and focus on the big picture across entire farming systems. He is the GRDC's executive manager commercial.
T 02 6166 4500