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Ross Pirrone. 2016 Scholarship winner

Ross Pirrone. 2016 Scholarship winner

Ross Pirrone, from Ayr in Queensland’s Burdekin region, has received a Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarship supported by Horticulture Innovation Australia and the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation.

He will study advanced and cost-effective horticultural growing systems, with an emphasis on tropical and sub-tropical protected cropping technology.

With a background in high performance automotive engineering and broadacre, cattle and horticultural production and marketing, Ross is ideally placed to undertake this research.

He is involved in his family’s business, which has an annual production of 30-40,000-tonnes of sugar cane; 80-hectares of grains, legumes and rice; 50-100-head of cattle for the live export trade; 3000-5000-bales of hay and fodder; and a horticulture enterprise comprising 150-160,000-kilograms of cucumbers and 500,000-kilograms of pumpkin sold each year.

Through his scholarship, Ross plans to look at protected cropping systems for horticulture that use the most advanced, cost-efficient technologies available across the world.

“With extreme market forces putting pressure on our profit margins and erratic weather putting us under environmental stress, I can particularly see big opportunities in the development of highly flexible and resilient greenhouses in our part of the world,” he says.

“This would allow us to take advantage of high commodity prices in the wake of weather events affecting field-grown crops and pave the way for year-round consistent supply of high quality produce.

“There would also be capacity to grow niche, high-value lines that are too risky to plant in the field.”

Ross plans to visit Israel, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and the United States through his scholarship.

Horticulture Innovation Australia is pleased to support Ross Pirrone as a 2016 Nuffield Scholar.

The organisation said it’s a valuable investment in the growth of agriculture in Queensland 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.

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

Phone: 0438 340 040 Email:

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

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