Canberra-based grains researcher Tony Swan has received the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) 2020 Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award.
The CSIRO senior experimental scientist has spent 30 years researching to answer critical questions from inside the farmgate. He was presented with the award at the GRDC Grains Research Update in Wagga Wagga this week.
“Research results I deliver must be right, because farmers are going to implement them on a scale that is at least 100 times larger than a trial plot; they are going to spend their money and wear all the risk,” Mr Swan said.
GRDC Northern Panel member Roy Hamilton said the award recognised Mr Swan’s long-standing track record in delivering useful, relevant information to growers and working with fellow scientists and technical staff to develop and manage complex research projects.
“Tony has an extraordinary ability to deliver detailed and highly technical information to growers and advisers in a way that is meaningful and has practical application to help improve farming systems,” he said.
“He is widely respected as a collaborative, innovative researcher with a passion for his work and for grain and grazing operations in southern and central NSW.”
After agricultural college he worked as a station-hand in the Hunter Valley, before stepping into a role as farm manager on another larger mixed farming operation outside Wagga Wagga.
He then worked as a technical officer with NSW Department of Primary Industries while completing a degree in Applied Science in Agriculture from Charles Sturt University and in 1999 he joined CSIRO.
His experience has included work in perennial pastures in mixed farming operations and managing subsoil constraints, primer crops, break crops and nitrogen fixation, weed control, inter-cropping, stubble management, pulses and more recently, farming systems projects.
“I feel like all the work I have done over the past 30 years has led me to the current farming systems research that really integrates all elements of mixed and cropping farming in a way that enables growers to operate sustainability and profitably,” Mr Swan said.
“Understanding farming at an operational level has been an advantage, but I think personally what has made a difference for me is understanding and respecting farmers.
“They are humble people, they take risk, they manage diverse and large portfolios, and a lot of them are incredibly successful and very smart, but they generously give up their time and share their knowledge with me and it is an incredible privilege to work with them.”
Mr Swan said he was unsure how he would use his bursary, but he was committed to continuing research that delivered genuine gains back to industry and made a difference on-farm.