GRDC salutes admirable NelsonNew approach to updatesScholarship a global gatewayHarvest Radio

Mr Dale Baker, left, with Seed of Light recipient Peter Nelson and his wife Helen.

Recently retired Grain Pool lupin specialist Peter Nelson is the 2004 recipient of the GRDC"s Seed of Light award, which acknowledges excellence in research communication.

Mr Nelson was recognised for creatively and professionally extending lupin management packages to WA growers.

Photo: Mr Dale Baker, left, with Seed of Light recipient Peter Nelson and his wife Helen.

Western Region panel chairman and Hyden grower, Dale Baker, says UK born Mr Nelson became the number one advocate for lupin growing when he moved to Geraldton with the Department of Agriculture in the late 1970s. "WA is now the world"s biggest producer and the man sometimes affectionately known as Mr Lupins can take much of the credit for that," Mr Baker says.

After about 20 years with the department, Mr Nelson was "seconded" to the Grain Pool where he continued to promote the virtues of lupins across the state. In the ensuing years, WA"s narrow leafed lupin crop reached one million tonnes a season, before being nearly wiped out in 1996 by the fungal pathogen anthracnose.

Although not back to previous highs, the crop managed to deliver close to 750,000 tonnes to CBH bins in 2003-04. Mr Baker says Mr Nelson was admired and respected by growers, researchers, agronomists, extension officers and advisers for his breadth of knowledge and his ability to translate theory into practice and then clearly deliver a worthwhile message.

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Growers and advisers will soon be noticing improvements in the presentation and delivery of the GRDC"s Grains Research Updates.

Stuart Kearns, program facilitator, Product and Service Delivery, says the GRDC"s research updates have been successful, well attended and delivered benefits to growers.

However, a more effective and efficient approach would provide greater value to growers and advisers and speed the adoption of improved practices on the ground. The rapid adoption of new practices and technologies gives individual growers a bigger slice of the benefits of R&D.

Differences in how the research updates have been handled in the various states under a range of projects, for example, had led to some overlap and a lack of coordination.

The content will now also be better tailored to the level of technical detail required by different audiences, he says. How and when research updates are delivered will be refocused in response to feedback from growers and advisers. Audio-visual tools will be employed more skilfully and at a more consistent quality, he says. Both the events and the publication of proceedings will be better aligned with the decision-making times on farm.

"We will be ensuring that the delivery of research updates is more professional and that the quality of both the presenters and the content is continually improved," he says.

The Grains Research Updates now account for the vast majority of the technical information made available on the GRDC"s website. Wider extension of this information through Ground Cover, the regional communicators and other avenues would also continue.

"The GRDC is one or two steps removed from the actual people who use the outcomes of its research - graingrowers use their local agronomist or consultant for this advice," Mr Kearns says. "The new update program for growers and advisers is a major component whereby we bring the two together."

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Young graingrowers from northern NSW and Queensland are being urged to apply for the 2004 Nuffield Scholarship for international travel to explore global agricultural issues and opportunities. The $21,000 scholarship is one of three supported by the GRDC for a graingrower scholar from each of its three production regions.

The chairman of the Australian Nuffield Farming Scholars" Association, Brendon Smart, says the scholarships are awarded to men and women judged to have the greatest potential to create value for themselves, their industries and their communities through the doors that will be opened and the opportunities provided for life-long learning and improvement.

He says the scholarships are awarded on the strength of applicants" vision, enthusiasm and determination to pursue their farming goals. "We are focused on developing the practical, managerial and commercial capacities of each scholar, to enable them to be better farmers and business managers and to make a significant contribution to the future of Australian agriculture."

The 2004 Nuffield Scholars will leave Australia in either February or June 2005 to join other scholars from around the world in a group study program involving two weeks in Australia and New Zealand, two weeks in North America and two weeks in Europe investigating agricultural marketing and trade issues and environmental issues . Following the initial six-week program, the scholars will pursue specific study programs in the country or countries of their choice.

Applications must be received by Friday June 25, 2004. Application forms are available from the Nuffield office on 02 6964 6600 or website

For more information:
Brendon Smart, 08 8554 6520 or 0417 820 301,

GRDC Research Code: NUF 00002, program 6

The benefits of extracting more accurate information about "the hidden half" - our below-surface assets - is a major theme highlighted in two Ground Cover stories this issue that also feature in Harvest Radio, the GRDC"s new web-based initiative.

Harvest Radio provides technical information on audio file for graingrowers, including updates on research trials and new varieties.

In article "A new view of the "hidden half"", read about how Adelaide University researchers are the first in the world to use advanced scanning and computer technology to study roots in undisturbed soils.

A second story on how more accurate and affordable soil testing and mapping would lead to greater profitability and sustainability, is "Growers are getting the message, the answer lies in the soil".

Go to Harvest Radio

GRDC program 6

Region North