Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 065 November-December 2006 - North
HIGH FLIER IN CROP PROTECTION BY BRENDON CANT n GRDC Western Panel member Ralph Burnett’s passion for flying began three years before he gained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, with a major in plant pathology, from Queensland University in 1966. It was sparked by his time in New Guinea, where he worked in agricultural extension after graduating from Queensland Agricultural College in 1960. After 1966, he spent several years in New Guinea as a tropical crop plant pathologist, while also gaining experience as a commercial charter pilot in one of the world’s most dangerous flying environments. Mr Burnett returned to Australia as a Bayer research officer in Perth, where he was involved in the final development of the insecticide Le-mat®, the nematicide Nemacur® and the development and labelling of the herbicides Sencor® (metribuzin), and Tribunil®. He sometimes jokes of himself as ‘the father of metribuzin’, having seen it labelled and continually developed for new and useful tasks over 35 years. In 1976, he left Bayer, establishing a boom-spraying business, before consulting in R&D to chemical manufacturers. He effectively pioneered group consulting, offering crop protection advice ‘on a shoestring’ to groups of 10 to 15 farmers, from one end of WA’s wheatbelt to the other. “This was old-fashioned stuff, with a pre-season update and winter and spring field walks to check crops and pastures,” he fondly recalls. “It proved farmers wanted independent, practical ‘dirty boots’ advice.” In 1980, he established his CPC Newsletter, eight pages of independent advice to growers. He still edits it under contract to new owners Synergy Consulting. Since 1978, Mr Burnett has owned six aircraft, in many years flying up to 300 hours. Still a senior flying instructor, he plans to start a recreational flying school at Albany, where he has lived for two years with wife Lee after 20 years at Beverley. Mr Burnett was appointed to the Western Panel in 2005 and is responsible for crop protection. He believes his 40 years’ experience can help advance the graingrowing industry. In 1983 he won the Ronald Anderson Man of the Year in Agriculture Memorial Award and was awarded an Order of Australia for services to agriculture in 2002. More information: Ralph Burnett, firstname.lastname@example.org NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2006 GROUND COVER 31 GRDC profiles R&D FUELS A FARMING PASSION BY EMMA LEONARD n The highway from Adelaide to Melbourne passes right through GRDC Southern Panel member Jeff Arney’s farm; 650 hectares of heavy Wimmera clay that should receive 480mm of winter dominant rainfall. Jeff has devoted countless hours over the years to agri-political organisations and issues, including 20 years on the SAFF Grains Council and the executive of GCA. Through good years and bad, Jeff remains passionate about agriculture. Jeff farms with his wife Josie and sons Darren and Simon. Crops are dominated by soft or APW wheat, with breakcrops including beans, peas, canola and oaten hay. With the release of the ascochyta-resistant chickpea Genesis 090, the Arneys are bringing chickpeas back into the rotation. Pastures, including lucerne, are grown for prime lamb and Merino flocks as well as for seed and hay. The Arneys have 105 hectares that can be flood-irrigated and this year they are considering planting some of this to forage sorghum. Jeff is a firm believer that R&D is vital for maintaining future productivity. On his own farm he feels the adoption of no-till in the mid-1980s has been the most significant change in farming practices in his career. However, weeds still rule the rotation and he believes a flexible rather than dogmatic approach to no-till is required. As chair of the GRDC sub-program for varieties, member of the pulses and oilseed subcommittee and as a board member for the CRC for Molecular Plant Breeding, Jeff is helping ensure that plant breeders have the resources and support to develop new varieties that meet future agronomic and market demands. He believes GM varieties have a part to play and refers to the Canadian experience with Roundup Ready® canola, which has provided significant improvements in weed control and yield, with no BY BERNIE REPPEL n People who know Darling Downs GRDC Northern Panel member Chris Joseph – and there are heaps of them – would not be surprised to hear him list one of his hobbies as “work”. Chris says he also enjoys seeing new places, new ways of doing things, meeting people, keeping up with his big extended family and “helping people where I can”. He is managing director of a family farming operation outside Dalby that grows as big a selection of the GRDC’s leviable crops as anyone – maize (for silage, grain and the edible trade), sunflowers (birdseed and crushing), soybeans (seed, edible trade and crushing), wheat, barley, oats, grain sorghum, chickpeas, millet, panicum, canary, buckwheat and sesame. Then there is the cotton, the lucerne and the other forages for hay and silage, which the family markets locally, interstate and to other parts of Queensland. A member of the Darling Downs Regional Advisory Committee to the GRDC since 1996, Chris Joseph is in his second term with the Northern Panel. He is also secretary of the Gowrie/Oakey Creek Irrigators Association and an unofficial leader in Queensland irrigator negotiations with state and federal governments. Between 40 and 50 farmers take water from the Gowrie/Oakey Creek system, fed to a large degree by wastewater discharge from Toowoomba. The city is famously facing desperate water shortages and its council is looking hard at the water that flows west to Chris Joseph’s irrigation community around Dalby. Lobbying on the association’s behalf and canvassing broader irrigation issues lets Chris Joseph joke that he has been in and out of Canberra’s impressive In coming issues Ground Cover will profile members of GRDC's regional panels; the people from various sectors within the grains industry who act as 'local' representatives and advise GRDC on research priorities for their regions detrimental impacts on their markets. Jeff is very aware that if agriculture and agricultural research are to continue to break new ground, then young, dynamic farmers and researchers are required. He is keen to see more opportunities for professional development for researchers and farmers. And in his spare time? In what little free time he has, he enjoys water skiing and following the AFL. More information: Jeff Arney, 08 8752 1357, 0408 823 544, email@example.com HELPING PEOPLE WHERE HE CAN Parliament House recently “probably more times than John Howard”. Chris is bullish about the future of the grains industry, and believes the dismal days of $120 a tonne sorghum and $130 wheat and barley “are pretty well behind us”. “With the rising costs of fuel, fertiliser and machinery, growers have to get at least $200 and more a tonne for grain, and I believe we will see that time soon,” he says. “There are record numbers of cattle on feed at the moment, and that is unlikely to change while the export price for beef holds up, while development of the ethanol industry will put another regular grain buyer into the marketplace.” More information: Chris Joseph, 07 4663 2192, 0427 718 056, firstname.lastname@example.org Jeff Arney: still passionate about agriculture. PHOTO: BRAD COLLIS Ralph Burnett: 40 years' experience of crop protection. Chris Joseph: bullish about the future of the industry.
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