Grains Research and Development

Southern Regional Panel

The 2013-2015 GRDC Southern Regional Panel

Map of GRDC Southern Region Thumbnail

Panel Chair

Keith Pengilley - Conara

Panel Members

Chris Blanchard (deputy chair) - Wagga Wagga

Neil Fettell - Condobolin 

Susan Findlay Tickner - Horsham

Richard Konzag - Mallala

Bill Long - Ardrossan

Geoff McLeod - Finley

John Minogue - Barmedman

Rob Sonogan - Swan Hill

Mark Stanley - Port Lincoln

Stuart Kearns, GRDC Executive Manager, Regional Grower Services

Southern Region Characteristics

  • temperate climate;
  • relatively infertile soils;
  • yield depends upon reliable spring rainfall;
  • smaller enterprise size;
  • diverse production patterns and opportunities;
  • large and diverse domestic market;
  • phase farming innovator; and
  • shift in intensive livestock production and demand for feed grains to this

As a panel, we want to hear more about what is happening in our region and the needs of our stakeholders. The new GRDC structure and operating processes will help us achieve this.

The regional location of a GRDC manager grower services and our panel support team will help the panel spend more time at events and activities in the region, while remaining in close contact with the GRDC staff in Canberra. 

In addition to the 10 members of the Southern Panel and the GRDC Executive Manager, we now have 42 grower and agronomist members of the four Regional Cropping Solutions Networks. These people are spread across the region in four networks, based on rainfall zone or the use of irrigation. Two or three panel members are associated with each network. 

The networks play a key role in capturing research ideas and prioritising short-term issues. This leaves more time for the panel to work on strategic investment requirements that often require longer-term strategies.

Panel Profiles

Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Chair, 2013-15

Keith Pengilley, Chair

Keith is the general manager of a dryland and irrigated family farming operation at Conara in the northern Midlands of Tasmania, operating an 8300 hectare mixed farming operation over four properties. 

He is a Director of Tasmanian Agricultural Producers P/L, a grain accumulation, storage, marketing and export business. 

T 03 6384 2184
M 0448 015 539

Chris Blanchard, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Deputy Chair, 2013-15

Dr Chris Blanchard, Deputy Chair

Chris is an Associate Professor in Food Science at Charles Sturt University’s School of Biomedical Sciences in Wagga Wagga and has an Honours Degree in applied science, a PhD in molecular biology and qualifications in teaching and management. 

His research has included projects in genetically engineering plants, human genetic diseases, grain quality and the development of functional food ingredients. 

T 02 6933 2364
M 0438 662 992

Neil Fettell, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Member, 2013-15

Neil Fettell 

Based at Condobolin in the central-west of NSW, Neil is an authority on cropping and tillage systems, stubble and soil management and crop physiology. 

A University of New England part-time Lecturer in Crop Production, he also assists the Central West Farming Systems group and previously led grain research projects across the southern region. 


Susan Findlay Tickner, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Member, 2013-15Susan Findlay Tickner

Susan is a partner in Yellow Grain Pty Ltd, an innovative and expanding dryland cropping enterprise producing cereals, pulses and oilseeds near Warracknabeal in north-west Victoria. She has a background in science communication, specialising in grains and climate research, development and extension. 

Susan has a Masters in Communication, a Diploma in corporate governance and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program. 

M 0428 622 352

Richard Konzag, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Member, 2013-15Richard Konzag

Richard has been a grain grower at Mallala, in SA’s Lower North, since 1981. He is currently cropping about 1800 hectares to wheat, durum, barley, beans, lentils, canola and oaten hay. 

He has served on the SA Advisory Board of Agriculture, representing the board on various forums and committees and chairing its ‘Achieving an Informed and Supportive Government’ working group. Richard has also served on the Plant Biosecurity CRC Grains Advisory panel since 2008. 

T 08 8527 2077
M 0417 830 406

Bill Long, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Member, 2013-15Bill Long

Bill is an agricultural consultant and farmer on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. He has led and been involved in many research, development and extension programs and was one of the founding members of the Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils Group and chairman of the Ag Excellence Alliance. 

He has a strong interest and involvement in farm business management and communication programs within GRDC. He is a Churchill fellow. 

M 0417 803 034

Geoff McLeod, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Member, 2013-15Geoff McLeod

Geoff runs an irrigated cropping farm near Finley in southern NSW. The farm produces a range of winter cereal, oilseed and grain legume crops and soybeans using both overhead and surface irrigation systems. 

Geoff has a degree in Agricultural Science and 30 years experience with irrigated and dryland farming systems in southern Australia. Geoff is a board member of SoyAustralia and chairman of Southern Growers, a local grower group in the southern Riverina. 

Geoff also provides consultancy services to government, industry and catchment management authorities related to land and water management. 

T 03 5883 4824
M 0427 833 261  

John Minogue, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Member, 2013-15John Minogue

John runs a mixed broadacre farming business and an agricultural consultancy, Agriculture and General Consulting, at Barmedman in southwest NSW. 

John is the chairman of the district council of the NSW Farmers Association, Deputy Chair of the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority and a winner of the Central West Conservation Farmer of the Year award. 

T 02 6976 3023
M 0428 763 023

Rob Sonogan, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Member, 2013-15Rob Sonogan

From Swan Hill in north-west Victoria, Rob is an extension agronomist who has specialised within government agencies in the areas of soil conservation, resource conservation and dryland farming systems. 

Over some three decades he has been privileged to have had access to many farmers, businesses, consultants, rural industry and agribusiness advisers. Rob also has been closely involved in rural recovery and emergency response into issues as diverse as locusts, fire, mice, flood and drought. 

Rob is currently employed part-time within the Mallee consultancy group AGRIvision. 


Mark Stanley, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Member, 2013-15Mark Stanley

Mark has had extensive experience in field crops development and extension and more recently in natural resources management with the State and Commonwealth Governments and with industry. He has led a number of extension programs including the introduction of canola in SA and the national TOPCROP program. 

He currently operates his own project management business, Regional Connections, on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. Mark is the executive officer with the Ag Excellence Alliance, supporting farming systems groups across SA, and is also on the board of the Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation. He is a committee member of the Lower Eyre Agricultural Development Association. 


Stuart Kearns, GRDC Executive Manager Regional Grower ServicesStuart Kearns

Stuart joined the GRDC in 1998 as the Northern Panel Officer and has worked in a number of roles throughout the organisation since then. 

He is currently the Executive Manager Regional Grower Services. The aim of the Regional Grower Services Business Group is to deliver new, innovative, high-value and improved regionally relevant products and services that meet the needs of growers and their advisers.

T 02 6166 4500

Belinda Cay, GRDC Southern Regional Panel Support, 2013-15Belinda Cay (nee Barr), Southern Panel Support

Belinda and the Raising the Barr (RTB) team are a communication company that design creative science education programs and corporate exhibits, plus offer media, marketing, facilitation and communication services. 

She has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and a Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication. 

RTB provides panel support services to the Southern Regional Panel. 

M 0423 295 576

Andrew Rice, GRDC Manager Grower Services – South

Andrew Rice, GRDC Manager Grower Services - southAs one of the three regionally based managers, Andrew Rice brings the face of the GRDC into the Southern Region. Having GRDC staff in the region offers visibility, accessibility and understanding. The skills set of the grower services manager provides another dimension to the operation of the GRDC.

Andrew believes that pairing the new position of manager grower services – south, with the establishment of the facilitated Regional Cropping Solutions Networks provides the capacity and links to really make a difference. 

M 0427 965 469 

Regional Cropping Solutions Networks

Map of the GRDC Regional Cropping Solution Networks - Southern locations and contacts

Bringing together a consistent approach to evaluating research priorities with a large network of growers, advisers and researchers across the region has the potential to provide a focused regional portfolio of research, development and extension investments. 

The objectives of the Regional Cropping Solutions Networks are to: 

  1. Create and manage knowledge on grains industry issues. 
  2. Build regional D&E capacity among growers and advisers. 
  3. Proactively respond to regional industry issues in a timely manner. 
  4. Provide enduring links between growers, advisers and the GRDC. 

Four networks have been established in the southern region, each supported by a facilitator. The networks will meet face-to-face up to three times each year. 

Each network will liaise with the wider grower community in their production zone, including convening regional meetings with relevant groups. 

The facilitator provides each network with an effective interface with regional farming systems groups, agribusiness and research and development organisations across the regions. 

While the primary focus of these facilitators will be working with farming systems groups and advisers, their work will also extend into maintaining a regional industry RD&E database of GRDC project activities and results. 

Names of the members of the networks are listed on the GRDC website (