The 2020 GRDC Southern Region Seed of Light Award has been presented to highly respected South Australian grain grower and consultant Bill Long.
The Seed of Light Award, voted upon by the GRDC Southern Region Panel, acknowledges outstanding effort in the extension of outcomes from GRDC grains research investments.
GRDC Southern Region Panel member Michael Chilvers presented the award at the recent GRDC Grains Research Update in Adelaide.
"This year's award is bestowed upon someone whose contribution to the grains industry has been immense," Mr Chilvers said.
"Bill is a passionate grains industry stalwart. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find someone more dedicated to advancing our industry.
"His commitment to the grains sector, and especially our growers, knows no bounds."
Passion for extension
Mr Chilvers said, given that this Seed of Light Award specifically recognises outstanding extension efforts, it is in this area that Mr Long excels.
"Bill is the consummate communicator - he understands his audience, he is engaging and he delivers information with authority," he said.
"When Bill speaks, people listen. And when people listen, you can influence positive change."
Having graduated from Roseworthy College with an agricultural science degree in 1986, Mr Long started his career with the Department of Agriculture as a research officer and then spent time with fertiliser and chemical companies in different parts of South Australia (SA), before starting his own consultancy business in 1996.
Based at Auburn in the Mid North, and with grain properties on Lower Eyre Peninsula, he is the principal consultant with Ag Consulting Co - an advisory, training and agricultural research business which Bill and his wife Jeanette established to provide agronomic and business management advice to growers across SA and beyond.
Ag Consulting Co also conducts research programs on behalf of public and private organisations, such as the GRDC, South Australian Grain Industry Trust and National Landcare programs, as well as grain, fertiliser and chemical companies.
Farm business expertise
Mr Long's advisory business has also worked with many family farm businesses, providing agronomic advice, training and research.
In his role as a farm consultant, Mr Long regularly delivers information to farming and advisory communities throughout the nation at field days, discussion groups, meetings and through rural media outlets.
He was a founding committee member and consulting agronomist of the Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils Group, and continues to conduct research programs on behalf of the group.
Mr Long was also instrumental in the development of - and was on the founding committee of - the South Australian Ag Excellence Alliance, an initiative set up in 2005 to help increase the viability of farmers through leadership and the development of effective linkages between grower groups and key stakeholders.
After a period of absence, he rejoined the Ag Ex committee in 2008 to develop the National Grain and Graze 2 program (of which the GRDC was a co-investor) and was chairman from 2011 until 2013, during which time he forged strong connections with the newly-established Natural Resource Management regional network.
Action on the ground
Mr Long joined the GRDC's Southern Region Panel in 2011 and served until 2017.
Mr Chilvers said during this time, Mr Long provided a unique insight into a broad range of issues and opportunities.
He said his contribution to the Panel and GRDC more broadly was highly valued.
"Building skills and capacity for grains industry research is a particular passion for Bill, who recognises the need to support researchers in providing first-class outcomes for advisers and growers," he said.
"He also understands the importance of supporting growers to adopt new technologies by providing professional extension servicers."
Mr Long and wife Jeanette ran the Extension Adoption Training and Support program - a GRDC investment - building the skills of more than 60 farm advisers in adoption, extension, mentoring and evaluation.
He received support through a Churchill Fellowship in 2009, which assisted him to travel to Europe, the UK and USA to better understand the impact of Varroa mites on bees and subsequently on crop pollination.
As well as his farming pursuits, Mr Long is currently focusing on the development of Farm Advisory Boards, providing alternative management skill sets to farm businesses.
Mr Chilvers said he was a role model for the next generation of agricultural consultants.
"In fact, he continues to take a direct approach to ensure the industry remains in capable hands, employing young agronomists and providing mentoring support and industry experience to enable them to go on to establish their own successful businesses," he said.
"On behalf of the GRDC and the broader grains industry, I congratulate Bill on his considerable and ongoing efforts to support our growers as they strive for improved farming systems and enduring profitability."
More information: Bill Long, Ag Consulting0417 803034