Website © 2019 by Wheatbelt NRM | Talkin' Soil Health | York 

Speakers

Joel Williams, Integrated Soils, Canada

Joel Williams is an independent plant and soil health educator and presenter on soil dynamics, plant nutrition and integrated approaches of agroecological farming. Joel integrates soil chemical and biological assessments, along with plant nutritional analyses as a joined-up strategy for managing crop production. He has a keen interest in managing plant diversity, soil microbial ecology and plant and soil nutrition to optimise soil function and crop immunity. Joel has worked throughout Australia and Europe and is currently based in Canada. He has a passion for teaching and sharing both scientific and practical information on soil health and agroecology and has lectured to farming audiences internationally.

Belinda Varischetti, ABC Radio, Perth

Belinda Varischetti is WA’s Country Hour presenter for the ABC.  Belinda began her career in 1993 as a Rural Reporter on the WA Country Hour.  She then moved to Shepparton in Victoria to work as the region’s Rural Reporter.  Belinda has worked on many different ABC programs and has taken the opportunity to explore as many regions around Australia as possible before returning to Perth to present the WA Country Hour.

Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC, Minister for Agriculture and Food, Western Australia

The Minister is committed to bringing WA’s agricultural sector into the 21st century through innovation and investment in science. She was appointed to her current role in 2017, with her other portfolios including Regional Development and Ports. The Minister is focused on creating economic opportunity in regional WA and is a strong advocate for regenerative farming and stewardship of land and natural resources. In October, Minister MacTiernan resurrected the Soil and Land Conservation Council (SLCC) after a 16-year hiatus in an effort to protect and nurture WA’s soil and land assets for future generations.

Office of the National Soils Advocate

The role of the National Soils Advocate is to raise awareness about the importance of conserving and improving agricultural soil and landscape conditions to benefit Australia’s environment.

By engaging with governments, land managers, industry and researchers the National Soils Advocate is progressing the Prime Minister’s national objective to protect, restore and maintain the health of the agricultural landscape. This will enhance Australia’s agricultural productivity and sustainability leading to greater food security and viable farming communities.

Dr Michael Crawford, CRC for High Performance Soils

Dr Michael Crawford has over 25 years’ experience in extension, research and science management in areas related to soil science, farming systems and natural resource management. Michael has had an extensive education in agricultural science. He has operated at senior levels of government and research management, he has worked with grower groups and farming communities, and he has strong relationships with relevant industry stakeholders, universities and government departments. He commenced as the inaugural CEO of the CRC for High Performance Soils in September 2017.

Nick Kelly, Wheatbelt Farmer, Newdegate

Nick has been pursuing regenerative agriculture for the last 20 years. His disillusionment with conventional agriculture (too expensive, not yielding desired results), led him to examine the natural environment for more productive, efficient and cheaper methods to achieve better results. He began sowing summer crops and eliminating fungicides, pesticides and herbicides. Biological stimulants replaced synthetic fertilizers. He has holistically grazed cattle on his property with a move to pasture cropping with the establishment of summer active perennials. He was one of the founders of the Wheatbelt Integrity Group, which involves farmers farming in an economically sustainable manner.  Nick sits on the Regen WA committee.

Facey Group, Wickepin

The Facey Group is a farmer run group that aims to improve on-farm practice to keep farms healthy and profitable into the future. The group conducts trials, demonstrations and extension works in the local region and tailors training that enables farmers to adopt practices which they see as beneficial and with the potential to increase their production and their profits. They are an innovative, motivated, organised and well-resourced grower group with a strong local region focus as well as being involved with one of the most recognised grower groups in Australia. The group works with members, sponsors, partners, industry and government who are each integral facets of the success of the group.

Stuart McAlpine, Northern Ag Region Farmer, Buntine

Stuart McAlpine is a fourth-generation farmer who owns and manages a 5,000-hectare farm at Buntine, Western Australia. As a co-founder of the Liebe Group, Stuart has gained extensive experience in research, extension and strategic development of agriculture in Australia. Stuart has expert knowledge in soil and regenerative agriculture practice and his efforts in natural resource management saw him honoured as a Soil Champion in the International Year of Soil 2015. Stuart is a committee member for RegenWA.

Lyn Abbott, Emeritus Professor, UWA, Perth

Lyn Abbott commenced her research career in soil biology at UWA in 1974. She was appointed as a lecturer at UWA in 1987 and has taught units on soil and land management with an emphasis on soil biological fertility.  Lyn’s research focuses on the role of soil biological processes linked to nutrient acquisition by plants. She became an Emeritus Professor in 2013 and has continued her research collaborations and extension in soil biology since then. She is a Fellow of Soil Science Australia and of AgInstitute Australia.

Fran Hoyle, Associate Professor, UWA, Perth

Fran Hoyle is an Associate Professor at UWA Faculty of Science, the Associate Dean Faculty of Science and a Director of SoilsWest. Fran is very interested in broadacre soil research.  Her interests include the role of soil organic matter, microbial processes and biological function in farming systems, soil organic carbon and soil quality monitoring.  While Fran is also interested in crop physiology, production agronomy and grain quality, her more recent work is on soil carbon, nutrient cycling, microbial processes, environmental regulators, farming systems and sustainable practices related to soil quality.

Rob Grylls, Wheatbelt Farmer, Bencubbin

Rob Grylls is a wheat and sheep farmer from Bencubbin in the Eastern Wheatbelt. He began trialling organic fertilisers about ten years ago when the price of phosphorus fertilisers skyrocketed. Since then he has replaced about 50 per cent of his phosphorus use with organic fertilisers. He sees this as way farmers can reduce costs and improve soil health. The slow release nature of compost makes it a superior form of fertiliser enabling interactions between crops and soil biology. Faced with declining rainfall and increasing temperatures, Rob believes getting crops and soil biology working together is becoming more important than ever.

Phil Barrett Lennard, AgVivo Consultant, Gingin

An agricultural consultant and beef cattle producer with an interest in pastures, livestock and mixed farming systems Phil is an excellent communicator and critical thinker. He combines scientific rigour with practical farming experience in Western Australia and the United States. He is recognised as a leading advisor on the application of sub-tropical perennial pastures in WA. He is well known for his work with Evergreen Farming Group and the Grain and Graze project.  Currently Phil is a member of the AgVivo Team providing agricultural and natural resource management services to organisations that aspire to excellence in sustainable resource management.

Brad Jones, Wheatbelt Farmer, Tammin

Brad is a Wheatbelt cropping farmer who has integrated technology into his production system to maximise his returns and improve soil health. He has a large property in Tammin, an area with restricted connectivity.  However, through collaboration with Origo Farms, Brad has been able to improve his connectivity.  Now, all aspects of the farm can be managed using technology. Brad collates soil samples with the spatial data, moisture probes and yield data to manage crops. By integrating with satellite technology, soil ameliorants can be applied at the correct times on the right patches.

Wendy Bradshaw, South West Region Farmer, West Tambellup

Wendy is a farmer and ecological agriculturalist striving to learn more on how we can better farm productively with nature. She has worked in on-farm biodiversity restoration roles for many years. Recently her focus has moved towards on-farm soil health projects initiated through the Gillamii Centre. This includes the Cropping Systems Soil Health Project and the current disc/stripper front cropping system trial through philanthropic and self-funding. The vision of the Gillamii Centre is “A productive and resilient agricultural landscape” and purpose: “To lead, inspire and support productive agriculture, rural communities and healthy natural ecosystem”.

Richard Bell, Soil CRC, Murdoch University

Richard Bell leads the Land Management group at Murdoch University in a portfolio of soil management research supported by GRDC, the Australia Centre for International Agricultural Research and the Soil CRC.  Recently, his group identified potassium as a key factor in reducing frost risk damage in wheat and it is continuing research on crop potassium nutrition with GRDC investment.  In the Soil CRC, he leads the project on “Organic and clay amendments to improve the productivity of sandy soils”, and participates in a project on “Developing knowledge and tools to better manage herbicide residues in soil”