Research Updates - Large audiences briefed on latest science Research Excellence recognised - 'Seed of Light' winners

Photo - left to right - Mark Branson, Bernard Coquil and Vic Dobos

The latest science and thinking in grains research has been presented and debated in the most recent round of GRDC Grains Research Updates for advisers and growers.

During February, updates were held in all grain states. The events attracted large audiences of grains industry specialists, including several prominent specialists from Europe and North America. There was particular enthusiasm for the high-tech future painted by French remote sensing specialist Bernard Coquil, pictured here at the Adelaide Update with GRDC Nuffield Scholar and SA grower Mark Branson (left) and the GRDC"s executive manager for communication and customer services, Vic Dobos (right). See story page 10.

Crop disease expert Nick Poole and a former manager of a WA grower group, Cameron Weeks, are this year"s GRDC "Seed of Light" award winners for the southern and western zones. The award recognises excellence in grains research and development and communication.

Photo of Cameron WeeksMr Poole leads a GRDC project to optimise economic yields by managing diseases in winter crops grown in high rainfall areas. Although he works predominantly with the GRDC, Mr Poole is based with New Zealand"s Foundation for Arable Research (FAR).

GRDC"s southern panel chairman, Ian MacKinnon, says the strong links forged between FAR, GRDC and Australian farming systems groups are a result of Mr Poole"s focus on achieving direct outcomes for graingrowers. "His work in the use of fungicides and crop canopy management has the potential to significantly improve disease management techniques and increase yields," he says.

[Photo: Award-winner: grower-group
driving force Cameron Weeks.]

Mr Poole is a regular visitor to Australia"s southern grainbelt workshops, field days and GRDC Research Updates.

His research data is used by farming systems groups such as Southern Farming Systems and the Birchip Cropping Group, and is also published in the UK and Europe.

Mr Weeks has been the driving force behind the Mingenew-Irwin Group in WA, which has come to be regarded as one of Australia"s most progressive grower groups.

GRDC"s western panel chairman, Dale Baker, who presented the western award, described Mr Weeks as an outstanding communicator who had facilitated valuable interaction among individuals and organisations in the WA grains sector. "Cameron"s ability to take a macro view of agriculture, especially farming systems, while taking a micro view of each project is a standout quality," Mr Baker says.

Victorian-born Mr Weeks began his career in 1991 as a technical officer with the Department of Agriculture in Three Springs, WA, before joining the Mingenew and Irwin Landcare Groups in 1994 through a Department of Agriculture role. The two Landcare groups employed him in 1997, and officially joined forces to form the Mingenew Irwin Group Inc. in 1998.

Mr Weeks has also been instrumental in forming the GRDC-funded Grower Group Alliance, set up to provide growers with the latest information and research results.

Mr Weeks recently started work as a Planfarm consultant.

Photo of Nick Poole[Photo: Award-winner: Nick Poole, from the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) in New Zealand]