Amid improved agri conditions, a complicated global market and a pandemic, and in the face of a changing climate, there has never been a more important time to promote leadership in agriculture, according to Syngenta's Paul Luxton, who today announced the 26 regional winners of the 2020 Syngenta Growth Awards.
The Syngenta Growth Awards recognise leading growers and farm advisers from different regions across Australia and New Zealand, showcasing their contribution to the industry.
Nominations were by invitation and the 26 regional winners will go onto the final stage of judging, with overall winners to be announced early next year.
Mr Luxton is the managing director and country head of Syngenta Australia and New Zealand and said recognising individuals who were leading the way in agriculture was vital to the future of the sector across the two countries.
"This has always been true but in 2020 it's absolutely critical," he said.
"Good practice, innovation, collaboration and simple passion for the industry is needed now more than ever."
Since its inception in 2014, the program has offered awards in productivity, sustainability and community and people categories.
This year, Syngenta has added an Innovator category, to identify growers, advisers and influencers who contribute to innovation in agriculture or apply game-changing technologies.
"Innovation has always been one of the things we look for when judging the awards, because leaders are always testing new ideas and approaches, but this year we chose to go a step further and create a separate category that focuses solely on innovation," Mr Luxton said.
While the regional winners represent a range of careers, locations and achievements, there were some common threads around true passion for the future of the industry and a commitment to sharing and learning.
The 2020 judging panel comprised independent industry specialists, as in years past.
This year Mr Luxton was joined on the judging panel by Ian McConnell, Director of Beef Sustainability for Tyson Foods; Richard Heath, Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute; Kirrily Condon, Agronomic Consultant with Grassroots Agronomy; and Brianna Casey, Chief Executive Officer of Foodbank Australia.
"Our judging panel comes from across the supply chain, allowing us to apply a broad perspective when reviewing applications," Mr Luxton said.
"This is important, because what happens on farm has implications throughout the supply chain and right through to our global economy."
Nominees were this year asked to complete a series of challenging questions designed not only to demonstrate their achievements and their expertise, but to uncover their views about collaboration across the industry and big picture topics from future agricultural challenges to food security.
"We're really excited to name our regional winners," Mr Luxton said.
"It's wonderful to see so much talent and passion in our industry - though it is certainly going to make choosing the ultimate winners a very tough job."
Productivity Growers: Brad Johnston, Quandialla, NSW; David Haak, Tent Hill, Qld; Simon Doolin, North Star, NSW
Productivity Advisers: Dale Abbott, Bowen, Qld; Graeme Jones, South Island, NZ; Karen Smith, Perth, WA; Paul McIntosh, NSW and Qld; Roger Blyth, Canterbury, NZ; Tim Walker, Devonport, TAS
Sustainability Growers: Adam Schreurs, Clyde, VIC; Murray Hall, Brookton, WA
Sustainability Advisers: Chris Monsour, Bowen, Qld, Chris Toohey, Albury, NSW, Denis Persley, Toowoomba, Qld, Linda Peacock, Tauranga, NZ, Nigel Myers, Lower Eyre Peninsula, SA, Stuart Grigg, Ballan, VIC
Community and People Growers: Anthony De Ieso, Adelaide, SA; Brett South, Esperance, WA; Sue Middleton, Wongan Hills, WA
Community and People Advisers: Alex Thomas, Torrens Park, SA; Grace Brennan, Dubbo, NSW; Josh McGregor, Qld and NSW
Innovator: Heath McWhirter, Griffith, NSW; Sarah Nolet, Sydney, NSW; Tanya and Rob Kitto, Geraldton, WA
For more information please visit: www.syngenta.com.au/growth-awards-2020