Members elect new leadership team

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SPAA-president-Phil-Honey

The Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA) has a new leadership team after the recent virtual Annual General Meeting.

The executive is:

  • President Philip Honey, Environmental & Cropping Technologies Australia Director (Albany, WA)
  • Vice president Dale Kirby, North West Local Land Services Extension Manager (Gunnedah, NSW)
  • Treasurer Steve Carn, Farmer (Parilla, SA)
  • Immediate past president Frank D’Emden, Precision Ag Agronomist (Perth, WA).

Committee members are:

  • Denis Pozzebon, Sugar Cane Grower (Ayr, Qld)
  • Julie O’Halloran, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Senior Development Horticulturist (Gatton, Qld)
  • Ben Heaslip, Rice Research Australia Farm Manager (Jerilderie, NSW)
  • Rohan Rainbow, Crop Protection Australia Managing Director (Canberra, ACT)
  • Jonathan Medway, Charles Sturt University Senior Research Fellow in Spatial Agriculture (Wagga Wagga, NSW)
  • Chad Glover, Farmer and CC Agricultural Manager (Yeelanna, SA)
  • Jamie Barwick, University of New England Precision Agriculture Lecturer and Researcher (Armidale, NSW).

Delivering his final president’s report, Frank D’Emden said the past year was notable for its significant challenges and upheaval.

He paid tribute to the late Wendy Weston, who died suddenly in January – just six months after replacing longtime SPAA executive officer Dr Nicole Dimos-Byrnes in the role.

“I want to recognise the extraordinary contribution that Wendy made to SPAA during the short time she was with us,” Frank said.

“She introduced some much-needed changes to the way we operate, very quickly came to understand the environment we work in and got some important projects across the line.”

Frank highlighted the continuing impact of COVID-19 restrictions on SPAA’s ability to complete projects and run events during the year.

However, he noted planning was underway for the first in-person Precision Agriculture Symposium in two years, to be held in conjunction with the South Australian PA expo in Adelaide and a celebration dinner to mark 20 years since SPAA was formed.

Retiring committee members Neale Postlethwaite – who joined the AGM from his tractor cab while seeding canola – Jessica Koch, Ben Pratt, Matt Notley and Jonathan Dyer were thanked for their service to the organisation.

Frank also announced the appointment of Dr Rachel Melland, who has been acting in the role, as SPAA’s new Executive Officer.

Speaking after the AGM, Phil Honey said he was looking forward to a return to hosting in-person events, increasing engagement with SPAA members and providing practical on-ground support to as many farmers as possible.

“I also look forward to seeing SPAA further cement its position as Australia’s renowned source of independent precision agriculture and digital agriculture advice, research, extension and training,” he said.

“SPAA has great knowledge networks throughout Australia, and actively supports farming organisations from their initial adoption phase through to full-blown ‘all-in PA’ operations. The networks extend well beyond the farm-gate to include leading machinery manufacturers and cutting edge researchers from a range of government, university and private organisations.

“No matter where you are farming or advising or what your experience levels in precision ag may be, there’s always someone in the industry willing to help and share their knowledge.”