Sustainable farming champion

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Image of Dr John Kirkegaard

CSIRO researcher Dr John Kirkegaard.

A agronomist Dr John Kirkegaard has been awarded the 2017 Farrer Memorial Trust Medal for sustainable agriculture research.
Farrer Memorial Trust chair and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries director-general Scott Hansen said the award recognised Dr Kirkegaard’s work in understanding soil–plant interactions to improve the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of dryland farming systems in Australia.

“Dr Kirkegaard’s career with CSIRO is providing significant agricultural research that has led to many benefits for Australia’s growers,” Mr Hansen said.

“A hallmark of his innovative research has been his active integration of growers and advisers into his research teams, which has led to more rapid adoption and impact.”

Dr Kirkegaard is a chief research scientist in farming systems research with CSIRO Agriculture and Food, based in Canberra, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia and Charles Sturt University, NSW.

With his research teams and collaborators he has investigated aspects of improved crop sequence, rotational benefits and productivity of canola and other Brassica species, improved subsoil water use, and development and integration of dual-purpose crops and improved productivity in conservation agriculture.

In his oration, ‘Farming systems agronomy – it is rocket science’, Dr Kirkegaard drew parallels between the teamwork and multidisciplinary approach needed to achieve space-exploration goals and the challenges of sustained increases in global food production.

“No individual technology is transformational – step-changes in crop productivity arise when synergies between the best genetics and innovative management can be captured on-farm,” Dr Kirkegaard said.

The Farrer Memorial Trust Medal is awarded annually to commemorate plant breeder William James Farrer by recognising today’s leading agricultural researchers.

More information:

Farrer Memorial Trust