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Nuffield Australia announces 2016 Scholars

Twenty four of Australia’s leading young primary producers and managers have been awarded prestigious Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarships for 2016, including three from the Northern Territory for the first time.

They will undertake cutting edge agricultural and fisheries research across the globe using a $30,000 bursary for a 16-week program of group and individual travel during 2016-17.

The scholarships were announced during a gala dinner [editors: 17 September] at this week’s Nuffield Australia National Conference, being held in Albury, New South Wales where over 320 delegates from primary industries have gathered to network and hear the latest research findings.

Global study tour research topics selected by the 2016 Scholars are wide-ranging, from advances in dryland grain systems to organic Wagyu production, the latest greenhouse technologies, reducing free range hen stress and barramundi farming.

After returning from global study tours, each of the Nuffield Scholars will share their findings with other growers and stakeholders in their respective industries and communities.

Using this model, Nuffield Australia continues to build capacity for the nation’s food and fibre industries to be world-leaders in the adoption of the latest and most effective technology, best practice and innovation.

There are currently more than 350 Nuffield Australia Scholars who have developed significant insights into global agricultural production systems and continue to influence advances in their rural industries and communities.

The 2016 Scholarship winners and their sponsors are:

New South Wales

  1. Angus Duddy, from Quirindi and supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) (northern region), who will investigate co-existence of agriculture and mining.
  2. John Stevenson, from Lockhart and supported by the GRDC (northern region), who will investigate ways to close the gap between potential grain yield and soil Plant Available Water Capacity in sustainable dryland cropping systems.
  3. Luke Mancini, from Whitton and supported by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority, who will study vineyard management practices and grape marketing techniques for alternative wine grape varieties in warm climates and irrigated areas.
  4. Liz Manchee, from Narrabri and supported by Meat & Livestock Australia, who will focus on the performance and profitability of producing ‘natural’ lotfed beef, considering genetics and traceability claims.
  5. John Finlayson, from Armidale and supported by Rabobank, who will study options for vertically integrated, paddock-to-plate meat supply chains, with a focus on cooperative producer models.
  6. Drew Braithwaite, from Griffith and supported by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s (RIRDC) Rice R&D Program, who will look at brand versus hedging for increasing value to a commodity such as rice.


  1. Matthew Abbott, from Mena Creek and supported by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIA), using the banana levy and matched funds from the Australian Government, who will look at organic banana farming opportunities, sustainable practices, disease management and marketing.
  2. Ross Pirrone, from Ayr and supported by HIA and the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, who will study advanced and cost-effective horticultural growing systems, with an emphasis on tropical and sub-tropical protected cropping technology.
  3. Emily Rigby, from Mapleton and supported by HIA and the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, who will study greenhouse production systems specifically for sub-tropical climates.
  4. William Harrington, from Richmond and supported by John Deere, who will investigate the global use of remote monitoring technologies in agriculture and increasing adoption by Australian beef producers.
  5. Ben Edser, from Graceville and supported by the RIRDC Chicken Meat Program, who will investigate waste management from intensive livestock production operations and alternative bedding used in poultry sheds.


  1. Mitchell McNab, from Ardmona and supported by HIA, using voluntary contributions from industry and matched funds from the Australian Government, who plans to look at robotics technology for the horticultural sector.
  2. Lachlan Green, from Lake Fyans in the Grampians and supported by the Australian Egg Corporation, who will look at strategies for reducing stress in free range hens.
  3. John Keely, from Cohuna and supported by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation, who will investigate better ways to use nutrients from manure and effluent generated in intensive dairy operations.
  4. Jan Vydra, from Melbourne and supported by The William Buckland Foundation, who will study innovative ways to boost the yields and sustainability of fresh herb and salad leaf production.

South Australia

  1. Randall Wilksch, from Yeelanna and supported by the GRDC (southern region), who will look at broad scale spraying systems used in grain production and advocating for agriculture positively through social media.
  2. Michael Vorrasi, from Adelaide and supported by HIA, using funds from the National Vegetable R&D Levy and matching funds from the Australian Government, who will study opportunities for value-added vegetables and markets for second-grade produce.
  3. Dennis Holder, from Largs North and supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), who will look at technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of commercial fishing vessels.
  4. Jack England, from Kingston and supported by Australian Wool Innovation, who will investigate the benefits and costs of using variable rate technology for fertiliser and trace element prescription use in livestock systems.

Northern Territory

  1. Sarah Hughes, from the Barkly Tableland and supported by ANZ and AACo, who plans to investigate commercial organic Wagyu production and the potential for international production partnerships to sure-up year-round supply.
  2. Adam Coffey, from Katherine and supported by the NT Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, who will look at commercial cattle production and management tactics for rangeland and other marginal areas.
  3. Dan Richards, from Darwin and supported by Woolworths, who will study international seafood and aquaculture production, technologies and market trends.

Western Australia 

  1. James Dempster, from Mingenew and supported by the GRDC (western region), who will study the potential for using corporate-style integrated supply chains in medium-sized, broadacre family-owned farms and the key factors and crops underpinning their success.
  2. Steven Davies, from Perth and supported by the FRDC, who will investigate the development of socially responsible and economically sustainable wild-catch seafood and aquaculture industries in Australia.  

Interviews, photos and more information: The new Scholars are available for interviews, and we can also provide photos and bios outlining their research areas. Please direct all requests to the media contact below.

Media contact:
Justine Mackay, Cox Inall Communications
M: 0435 325 954; E:

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