Meet the Growth Awards winners

02 Dec, 2015 11:00 AM
Sheila Charlesworth, Mingenew, Western Australia, won the Case IH Award for industry achievement. Photo: Jacinta Bolsenbroek
They really demonstrate what it takes to maintain a vibrant, sustainable industry
Sheila Charlesworth, Mingenew, Western Australia, won the Case IH Award for industry achievement. Photo: Jacinta Bolsenbroek

BEFORE an audience of industry peers and agribusiness leaders, seven of the most noteworthy growers and farm advisers in Australia and New Zealand were declared winners of the 2015 Syngenta Growth Awards on Tuesday.

The Growth Awards, presented by Syngenta in partnership with Case IH and Fairfax Agricultural Media, acknowledge leading farmers and advisers, highlighting outstanding contributions to agriculture.

Syngenta’s Australasian territory head Paul Luxton said the winners reflected the best of the industry’s forward-looking, sustainable and innovative practice.

“They come from across the spectrum of the industry, but have in common a commitment to the whole sector’s future,” he said.

“They really demonstrate what it takes to maintain a vibrant, sustainable industry; to promote strong communities; and contribute productively to global food security.

“These elements are the cornerstones of our industry.”

The seven winners were selected for the difference they made locally and in the broader agricultural industry.

They were chosen from 24 finalists assessed by an independent judging panel including representatives from WWF Australia, Rimfire Resources and Fairfax Agricultural Media.


Sheila Charlesworth, Mingenew, WA

Sheila is chief executive officer of the grower research and development body, Mingenew Irwing Group, where her commercial expertise benefits almost 200 growers.

Her focus is on developing a positive image for agriculture, maintaining high ethical standards and being involved in industry and community bodies.

“The farm community doesn’t thrive without mateship, the right leadership, collaboration and total commitment of everybody” – Sheila Charlesworth.


Bryan Hart, Pukekohe, New Zealand

A former Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries technology specialist with expertise in post harvest fruit and vegetable physiology, Bryan manages farming operations spanning 1800 hectares of cereals, potatoes, onions and carrots just south of Auckland.

His approach to maximising sold-tonnes-per-hectare involves a deep understanding of each aspect of farm productivity and a strong appreciation of what different customers need.

“Planting insect predator banks and applying action thresholds resulted in less potato psyllid spraying and no factory rejections from Zeba chip in 2014-15” – Bryan Hart.


Quenten Knight, Esperance, WA

Quenten has spent more than 20 years working with farmers in WA with a strong commitment to using precision agriculture to lift productivity.

He has focused on measuring soil nutrition, compaction and water use efficiency to drive yield opportunities for clients of his business Precision Agronomics Australia.

“More than ever, data collection and solutions from data play a vital role in profitable cropping” – Quenten Knight.


David Birkett, Leeston, NZ

David uses all his 180 hectares to run lambs and grow up to 12 rotation crops a year, including wheat, ryegrass, radish and peas.

Global positioning system technology for yield mapping and electromagnetic scanning to identify soil types and tailor nutrient inputs help achieve high yields despite his relatively low input regime.

“We’re farming intensively, but also improving the environment in this area” – David Birkett.


Greg Giblett, Quirindi, NSW

City-born Greg’s childhood interest in agriculture started on a farm in Central West NSW and has grown to make him a top industry adviser with Agromax Consulting on the Liverpool Plains.

He was involved in the early adoption of no-till and controlled traffic farming systems and teamed up with other consultants to start Northern Grower Alliance which facilitates a network of research trials.

“If you don’t have the right rotations you've no chance of maintaining any kind of robust weed, disease or chemical resistance control strategy” – Greg Giblett.


Paul Nicol, Childers, Queensland

Paul has worked for cane business Isis Central Sugar Mill for 30 years, where he is currently chief field officer.

He has led the team making the mill self-sufficient in water use and electricity, introducing sustainable farming regimes and promoting a responsibility to next generation farmers.

“Creating a sustainable future isn’t just about individual farms, it’s about a sustainable future for the entire industry” – Paul Nicol.


David Heinjus, Clare, SA

David runs a team of 22 staff at Rural Directions consulting to about 15 per cent of South Australian farmers.

His passion for good leadership in agriculture prompted him to start a graduate program to help newcomers to develop technical skills and values.

He also chairs the National Integrated Weed Management Initiative.

“Lead by example and always be positive about the industry” – David Heinjus.



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