FORMER fertiliser industry pasture specialist Kirk Reynolds is to head Western Dairy's Bunbury-based research, development and extension (RD&E) hub.
Mr Reynolds is well known to WA sheep and cattle farmers, having been CSBP Fertiliser's pasture manager and prior to that, its market development manager for pastures.
A regular speaker on matching pasture to animal performance at updates and corporate information days and at Feeding Pasture For Profit workshops, Mr Reynolds has connections with the WA dairy industry.
He has served a three-year term as a non-farmer director of Western Dairy, been chairman of its Regional Feedbase Development Group and contributed technical articles for the group's Feed Trough newsletter.
Mr Reynolds, who will start at Western Dairy's RD&E hub on Monday, will take on the team leader position vacated by former dairy industry development specialist and hub manager Rob La Grange.
Mr La Grange left Western Dairy in October after accepting an offer to set up dairy extension in Fiji.
Mr Reynolds will join former Department of Food and Agriculture (DAFWA) research scientists Martin Staines and Ruairi McDonnell and technical and extension officer Jess Andony.
Dr Staines was senior research officer with DAFWA and left after 17 years to join the hub when it was created in July to take over the dairy RD & E role divested by DAFWA due to budget cuts and downsizing.
Mr Reynolds, who has a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in agriculture from the University of WA, will also work with several research and project officers contracted as consultants.
Western Dairy chairman Vic Rodwell said Mr Reynolds' appointment, with his combination of agronomic, business and farm extension skills from a commercial background, represented a significant change of direction for dairy RD & E.
"Until now, our dairy research activities have been embedded in government agencies, but Kirk's appointment introduces a strong commercial/business aspect to leading dairy research and extension," Mr Rodwell, a Boyanup dairy farmer, said.
"At a time when the WA dairy industry is poised for growth but needing strong business leadership in order to harness the growth opportunities, I couldn't be more delighted to see someone of Kirk's skills and capabilities taking on this role.
"Kirk's skill set of commercial experience, agronomy and business compliments the skills of our hub team members Martin Staines, Ruairi McDonnell and Jess Andony and this positions us really well to enhance the level of service that Western Dairy can offer the WA dairy industry."
South West Catchments Council (SWCC), which partners Western Dairy in the RD & E hub, also welcomed Mr Reynolds' appointment.
SWCC chief executive Damien Postma said Mr Reynolds had worked closely with the Natural Resource Management (NRM) sector throughout his career with CSBP and this experience would enhance the partnership.
"The SWCC and Western Dairy partnership has forged a strong link between core on-farm production activities and NRM initiatives and having Kirk on board will strengthen this further," Mr Postma said.
Western Dairy, with Dairy Australia support, stepped in last year to establish the Bunbury hub located in the SWCC building, to ensure a RD&E capability was retained for the WA dairy industry.
A total of $1.575 million was committed over three years to establish the hub, with Dairy Australia promising $975,000 and DAFWA $600,000.
No further DAFWA funding is expected for the hub which will have to find other funding sources after the 2017-18 financial year.