Industry's changing face a link in the knowledge chain

To many, Jules Dixon embodies the changing face of the grains industry - a young, professional woman, working as the link for five large grower groups who are collaborating to improve their knowledge and farm management skills.

It is Ms Dixon"s job to draw together the increasingly collective capacity of the grower groups, by being the hands-on human communications link.

Her territory stretches from her base in Tamworth, south to the Liverpool Plains and north to Moree.

The GRDC-funded position was created after lobbying from local NSW Farmers" Association members, who felt the potential of grower groups would be improved with a full-time support person.

Chairman of the NSW Farmers" Association Grains Research, Development and Extension Committee, James Clark, says the position has given the groups a stronger structure.

“Groups are keen at the start, then they go through a slumber period where it is hard to see the results. Jules is helping them get results and meet their goals,” Mr Clark says.

Ms Dixon, who grew up on the family farm at Gunnedah, has found the new role quite different from her previous work as an agronomist.

“This has a more business and research focus, and we take a flat, levelled approach to building communications between grower groups and people who can help them.”

Ms Dixon is part of an increasing trend of women working in industry support services. “My first job after uni was with a large company and I was one of two females among 45 blokes. Today in that same company it would be 50-50. I see women all around me now in the grains industry.”

- Kellie Penfold