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John Stevenson. 2016 Scholarship winner

John Stevenson. 2016 Scholarship winner

John Stevenson, from Lockhart in New South Wales, has received a Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarship supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (northern region).

He will investigate ways to close the gap between potential grain yield and soil Plant Available Water Capacity (PAWC), with a focus on boosting productivity from sustainable dryland cropping systems.

For more than a decade John has managed large rain-fed grain production enterprises for the Warakirri Cropping business from the NSW Riverina to the Queensland Darling Downs. Crops have included wheat, canola, barley, pulses, sorghum, cotton and oaten hay (with some fallow phases).

He says the use of PAWC calculations through a range of grains industry decision-support tools is highly valuable, but there is no simple, affordable technique for growers to measure PAWC in a landscape that has highly variable soils.

“PAWC of soils is the key driver of dryland grain production right across the world,” he says.

“It leads to a better understanding of soil variability that can help growers optimise the use of crop inputs where moisture is a limiting factor or is too excessive.”

John would like to evaluate systems that allow cost effective measurements of PAWC, soil moisture and rainfall distribution. He will also study methods of better combining wide-ranging precision agriculture data, such as electromagnetic induction (EM) surveys, elevation data, pH, yield mapping and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imagery.

Through his scholarship he will travel to Canada, South America, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (northern region) is pleased to support John Stevenson as a 2016 Nuffield Scholar. The organisation said it’s a valuable investment in the growth of agriculture in New South Wales alongside Nuffield Australia, which is at the forefront of developing future industry leaders.

Nuffield Australia chief executive officer Jim Geltch said Nuffield now boasted more than 350 scholars in Australia who, through their scholarship global study tours, had significant insight into global agricultural production systems.

“We are building capacity for the nation’s food and fibre industries to be world leaders in the adoption of technology, best practice and innovation,” he said.

“Nuffield Scholars are influencing industry and community changes, resulting in agricultural productivity increases and economic development for rural communities.

“The Nuffield experience adds new dimensions to the way scholars think about the economic, environmental and social aspects of global food production.

“Engagement and investment in capacity building and talent development in agriculture is critical as the global population continues to escalate and the amount of land available for food production shrinks.”

Scholars undertake a 16-week program of group and individual travel.

Global Focus Program tours will visit several countries in March/April or June/July 2016, including New Zealand, Brazil, the United States of America, Mexico, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Kenya, Eastern Europe, Singapore, India, Qatar, Turkey, France, the Philippines, China, Canada or Ireland (itineraries will vary between groups).

Applications for Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarships open in April each year to Australian primary producers and managers who seek to research a topic important to them and to Australian agriculture.

John is available to talk about his planned travel and can be contacted on:

Phone: 0429 206 238 Email: orangepark@watag.com.au

Media contact:
Justine Mackay, Cox Inall Communications
P: 0435 325 954; E: justinem@coxinall.com.au

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