Former BCG researcher Dr James Hunt was presented with the Young Agronomist Award at the 16th Australian Agronomy Conference held at Armidale last month.
The award recognises outstanding young agronomists aged 35 and under who have achieved excellence in research and/or the application of science on crops and pastures. James was joint winner, alongside NSW DPI agronomist Loretta Serafin.
James, who now works as a research scientist within CSIRO’s plant industry division, was acknowledged for his contribution to the industry, particularly through his research into improving water use efficiency in broadacre farming systems and the application of farming system, models to assist with on-farm decision-making.
Presenting the award, Australian Society of Agronomy deputy president Guy McMullan, outlined James’ professional achievements and the projects he has been involved in.
“James is regularly invited to present the outcomes of his work to grower, industry and science forums and has rapidly developed a national profile in agronomic research,” he said.
“He has extensive collaborative links with growers and industry, developed as BCG’s Yield Prophet® co-ordinator and later through his work within GRDC’s national water use efficiency initiative.”
James was praised for his willingness to engage with the industry at all levels which Guy said was ensuring rapid uptake and impact of the outcomes of his research.
“The recently published insights into potential yield and yield gaps arising from the Yield Prophet® data sets has provided important benchmarks to assess the performance of the grains industry nationally,” he said.
“There is no doubt that his more recent work on summer fallow management in southern Australia has had an immediate and demonstrable impact on the industry with leading agricultural consultants in southern NSW re-evaluating accepted practices as a result of his field experimental outcomes and simulations studies.
“The agronomic package emerging from this with a focus on early sowing and agronomic management to maintain harvest index will have a significant ongoing impact on agricultural productivity in southern Australia, especially in the context of predicted climate change.”
Guy said James had also been careful to marry his research with practical economic and management considerations.
“His recent work on low-risk integration of break crops into the cropping system shows a clear understanding of the driving economic and social forces that often are overlooked when agronomic innovations arising from research are proposed,” he said.
“James’ capacity to challenge and inspire industry groups and to liaise with them to bring sound agronomic science to practical reality will no doubt continue to have substantial impact within the grains industry.”
While at BCG, James was directly involved in participatory research into the farm management applications of crop growth models and forecasting. He also researched seasonal climate forecasting systems, their relevance to different cropping regions and potential uses in on-farm decision-making.
Since joining CSIRO in 2009, James has been researching aspects of water use efficiency, with a particular focus on mixed broadacre farming systems in southern and western Australia. This includes the application of farming system models such as APSIM (Agricultural Production Systems Simulator) and Yield Prophet® to water limited production problems.
James’ academic qualifications include a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Melbourne (2006) and a Bachelor of Science in Botany (First Class Honours), also from the University of Melbourne (1999).
BCG congratulates James on another achievement.