Farm Online

Leaders in agriculture pave the way

Syngenta Growth Award Winners: left to right Bruce Shepherd, Luke Marquis, Duncan Young, Kirrily Condon, Ray Harrington, Tina Lawton Syngenta Asia Pacific regional director, Andrew Bulmer, Erik Fyrwald Syngenta chief executive officer, Daniel Nicoletti and Peter Calabria.

This article is sponsored by Syngenta

Eight Australasian winners were announced at a gala dinner in Sydney on 30 November 2017, and represent the very best of Australian and New Zealand growers and advisers.

Now in its fourth year, the Growth Awards recognise growers and advisers whose innovative work is helping to ensure a sustainable future for Australian and New Zealand agriculture.

The Awards support the goals of Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan, which addresses the challenges of increasing productivity with diminishing resources, protecting the viability of farmland and supporting rural communities.  

Bruce Shepherd (NZ), Ray Harrington (WA), Luke Marquis (WA), Duncan Young (WA), Daniel Nicoletti (QLD), Andrew Bulmer (VIC), Peter Calabria (NSW), and Kirrily Condon (NSW) were awarded this year’s top honours at the 2017 Growth Awards for their continued perseverance to improving agriculture in Australia and New Zealand.

Paul Luxton, Syngenta territory head – Australasia, said all the winners are deserving recipients.  

“The Syngenta Growth Awards winners have been chosen from across the spectrum for their strong passion for agriculture and challenging complacency in our industry,” Mr Luxton said.

“Their innovative work is helping to ensure a sustainable future for Australian and New Zealand agriculture, through developing new technologies, supporting their communities and making new technological advances and information available to their peers.”

There is also a shared passion amongst the top 25 Regional Winners for promoting a more positive, stronger image of Australian and New Zealand agriculture.  

“It’s inspiring to see how all of our Regional Winners continue to push themselves in their quest to open up new domestic and international opportunities for industry participants and better tell the story of Australasian agriculture,” Mr Luxton said.

The eight Australasian winners were chosen from a pool of 25 Regional Winners by an independent judging panel and were selected based on a set of rigorous criteria for their overall contribution to the industry across the categories of productivity, sustainability and community and people.


The Productivity category winners are recognised for their focus on embracing modern agricultural technology to drive productivity, grow quality crops and improve returns.


The Sustainability category aims to award growers and advisers who demonstrate best practice in sustainable agriculture through implementing innovative methodologies.

Community and People

Winners in the Community and People category exhibit great leadership qualities and work to build a positive image for Australasian agriculture within the wider community.

With such strong competition in this year’s Awards, the judges selected two joint winners of the Adviser Productivity Award for the first time in Growth Awards history.

“The judging was a very challenging task given the high calibre of nominees for the 2017 Syngenta Growth Awards. We are proud to celebrate the forward-thinking and innovative practices of our winners,” Mr Luxton said.

The nominees, judges and Syngenta senior leadership members were joined by Tina Lawton, regional director, Asia Pacific and Erik Frywald, chief executive officer of Syngenta.

“Both Tina and Erik enjoyed the Growth Awards and the opportunity to meet such driven leaders of Australian and New Zealand agriculture and to hear the stories of those paving the way in our industry,” Mr Luxton said. 

Meet the 2017 Growth Awards Finalists:

Ray Harrington, R & B Harrington Farms, Darkan – Western Australia

- Case IH Winner

Leaders in agriculture pave the way

Ray has devoted more than 40 years to improving agricultural systems through his pioneering inventions. With his brother, Ray has developed a knife point system allowing him to use no till to sow his crops. He is also challenging chemical resistance with the invention of the Harrington Seed Destructor which crushes and destroys weed seeds during the harvesting process.

Bruce Shepherd, EastPack Ltd, Te Puke – New Zealand 

- Productivity Adviser Winner

Leaders in agriculture pave the way

Bruce Shepherd is the technical manager for EastPack, a company that packs produce from 3300ha of New Zealand grown kiwifruit. Bruce knows there is a fine line between trying to boost productivity and sacrificing quality, but his mantra is to always grow the highest quality fruit possible.

Luke Marquis, South East Agronomy Services, Esperance – Western Australia 

- Productivity Adviser Winner

Leaders in agriculture pave the way

Luke Marquis is the principal of South East Agronomy Services at Esperance, Western Australia where his business covers the management of more than 250,000ha of crops each year. Luke has also established his own research and development arm to trial chemical and management techniques so growers can manage the challenges rather than being reactive.

Daniel Nicoletti, Nicoletti Orchards, Pozieres – Queensland 

- Productivity Grower Winner

Daniel Nicoletti with his son Sean and wife Toni in their orchard.

A third- generation apple producer from Queensland, Daniel and his wife Toni have been managing Nicoletti Orchards for seventeen years. About 70 per cent of Nicoletti Orchards’ fruit is sold through the major supermarket chains, so staying abreast of new technologies, such as automated pickers and anti-bruising handling equipment in the packing shed, produces the high-quality apples these chains demand. Daniel strives to overcome the challenges of modern farming by being actively involved in how his apples are marketed and sold and coming up with new ways to achieve maximum productivity.

Kirrily Condon, Grass Roots Agronomy, Junee – New South Wales 

- Sustainability Adviser Winner

Leaders in agriculture pave the way

Kirrily, along with her husband Greg, run Grassroots Agronomy based in Junee, where their operational focus is to increase both productivity and sustainability in agriculture. Kirrily has embraced both traditional means such as booklets and newsletters but also social media platforms in an effort to spread knowledge on important issues such as herbicide resistance. Kirrily has her own YouTube channel where she showcases short clips on important challenges or crop management successes, and uses twitter regularly to engage with the online global agricultural community.

Duncan Young, JT Young & Sons, Beverley – Western Australia 

- Sustainability Grower Winner

Leaders in agriculture pave the way

Duncan’s passion for agriculture stems from living and working on his 2,800ha farm in Beverley. His target is to reduce the environmental footprint from his farming activities and he goes to great lengths to do so. He runs up to 11 trials on his farm each year, has a self-imposed chemical ban near rivers and utilises technology such as knife rollers instead of burning stubble. He is motivated to ensure agriculture is sustainable for future generations.

Peter Calabria, Yenda Producers Co-Operative, Yenda – New South Wales 

- Community and People Adviser Winner

Leaders in agriculture pave the way

As the managing director of Yenda Producers Co-operative, in the NSW central west, Peter is proud of the organisation’s growth since beginning in 1925. Peter believes the value in cooperatives lies in the contribution they make to their local community and to Australian agriculture’s competitiveness in the global marketplace. It’s the reason why each year Yenda Producers distributes around $100,000 to community initiatives. Peter says the nomination is “an honour as there are very few awards that recognise community and people”

Andrew Bulmer, Bulmers Farm Fresh Vegetables, Lindenow – Victoria 

- Community and People Grower Winner

Leaders in agriculture pave the way

Andrew runs Bulmer Farms, a 550ha property in Victoria’s East Gippsland region. The family-run operation employs 100 staff to supply up to 100,000 bunches of baby broccoli a week, along with salad leaves, baby spinach and iceberg lettuce. Andrew puts the business success down to “hard work, perseverance and a passion for quality”.

This article is sponsored by Syngenta