WELL known Western Australian agronomist Bill Crabtree is back in the Australian agriculture sector.
Mr Crabtree, known in ag circles as 'No Till Bill' for his work in moving the cropping sector away from cultivation and into no-till and zero-till cropping systems in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has spent the past two years in Africa.
He has now taken up a role with agricultural inputs business 4Farmers where he will be running agronomic trials.
It will mark a significant change of pace after spending the past two years in the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa, where he worked with local farmers to help improve food security.
Mr Crabtree said there will be a big difference in moving from working with subsidence farmers in one of the world's wettest countries to dealing with large-scale Australian farmers operating in the planet's most arid grain production zone.
4Farmers was delighted to attract an agronomist of the calibre of Mr Crabtree to the business.
Phil Patterson, 4Farmers director, said Mr Crabtree had played a big role in getting uptake of the systems that kept growers going through the Millennium Drought.
"Most farmers will remember the tireless work that No-Till Bill did for 20 years in championing no-till with the various No-Till Farmers Associations across Australia from the 1990s onward," Mr Patterson said.
He also highlighted Mr Crabtree's contribution to removing the moratorium on the cultivation of GM food crops in Australia.
"Bill was relentless in his efforts to encourage GM crop technology in the 2000's and Bill has always been an up-front innovator with his new ideas with a focus on making farmers profitable and sustainable - this makes Bill a perfect fit as our agronomist," he said.
Mr Crabtree officially joined 4Farmers earlier this month and will be working on projects to help connect 4Farmers to the Aussie grain growers.
As part of his role he will also be looking for trial and demo sites with a focus on renewal and extension of older molecules.
4Farmers general manager Trent Kensett-Smith said while Mr Crabtree's resume dated back to the 1990s his desire to innovate meant he would connect with those just stepping into the industry.
"4Farmers believe that Bill will connect well with the next generation of younger farmers as he is a champion innovator, he has travelled widely and has a wealth of general agricultural knowledge," Mr Kensett-Smith said.
Practically, he said Mr Crabtree's knowledge regarding farm chemicals could potentially help create additional chemical rotation options for growers.
"Bill's past work gives him a good foundation for knowing what old molecules are worthy of looking at again and we are experts in bringing old molecules to life that will profit the agricultural industry."