Leading growers recognised

Australian Farmer of the Year Matt Dunbabin with wife Vanessa. The Dunbabins operate a mixed farm in Tasmania's south-east.

PHOTO: Sarah Keayes

Seventh-generation Tasmanian mixed farmer Matt Dunbabin was named Australian Farmer of the Year and Diversification Farmer of the Year in the 2015 ABC Rural and Kondinin Group Australian Farmer of the Year Awards announced in September.

The awards, hosted by ABC Rural and Kondinin Group and supported by industry, were initiated to promote a positive image of growers and farming families, and inspire and encourage career choices and investment interest in Australian agriculture.

Matt, with his wife Vanessa, produces wine, wool, crops, beef and sheep on a 6200-hectare landholding near Dunalley on the Forestier Peninsula in Tasmania’s south-east.

The Dunbabins, who both hold PhD qualifications, are committed to agricultural research, development and extension. Matt previously worked in pasture research and Vanessa in cropping research, developing a computer model of how crop root systems grow, with support from the GRDC.

They are now trying their hand at farm tourism with the opening of the Bangor Wine and Oyster Shed, serving their wine and local seafood to tourists and locals.

Central Queensland grower Darren Jensen (left), pictured with GRDC managing director John Harvey, earned the title of 2015 Grain Grower of the Year.

PHOTO: Sarah Keayes

Queensland grower Darren Jensen was named 2015 Grain Grower of the Year, supported by the GRDC. Darren and his wife Tanya recently expanded their landholding to 2000ha near Biloela in Central Queensland. They grow a mix of summer and winter crops including mungbeans, sorghum, wheat and chickpeas, depending on seasonal conditions.

In ‘turning rain into grain’, Darren sees himself as an opportunity cropper and is only prepared to sow if there is 120 millimetres of stored soil water, which equates to 500mm of moisture depth when measured with a push probe. It is at this point that a crop is planted to start drying the soil and to avoid erosion caused by rain falling on wet soil.

The Jensens have been long-time users of no-tillage and controlled-traffic farming to improve moisture infiltration and erosion control. Darren says weed management and frost are ongoing challenges. He sees soil testing as a must to guide nutrient inputs.

Darren has a passion for grains research and development. He has collaborated with the University of Queensland’s Dr Yash Dang in GRDC-supported trials on subsoil constraints and strategic tillage to combat herbicide resistance, and provides land in support of crop variety trials research.

More information:

Matt Dunbabin,
0438 535 788,


Darren Jensen,
0429 054 511,

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