Tony Swan commended for grower-focused research

CSIRO's Tony Swan awarded GRDC Excellence Award

Cropping
Tony Swan has spent the past 26 years researching projects from nitrogen fixation to stubble management.

Tony Swan has spent the past 26 years researching projects from nitrogen fixation to stubble management.

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Tony Swan's career has taken him from station hand to award-winning researcher.

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CSIRO senior experimental scientist, Tony Swan was the recipient of the Grain Research and Development Corporation's (GRDC) 2020 Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award.

Mr Swan has spent the past 26 years working for both NSW DPI (6 years) and CSIRO on research projects designed to answer critical questions from inside the farm gate.

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He said had always felt an enormous responsibility to ensure his work was accurate and meaningful.

"Research results I deliver must be right, because farmers are going to implement them on a scale that is at least a hundred times larger than a trial plot and they are going to spend their money and wear all the risk," Mr Swan said.

The Canberra-based researcher worked on mixed-farming operations for 11 years before completing a degree in Applied Science in Agriculture and joining the CSIRO.

"I started my agricultural career as a station hand in the Hunter Valley before managing a farm in the South West Slopes, so I've come from a bottom-up approach," Mr Swan said.

"How we're getting funding and putting projects together now is a much more bottom-up approach, incorporating growers, agronomists, farmer groups, agribusiness and researchers from the start.

"This collaboration between everyone assists in delivering practical applications from the research to growers trying to ensure better long-term outcomes.

Tony Swan said one of his current projects was getting more pulses into the system. Photo supplied.

Tony Swan said one of his current projects was getting more pulses into the system. Photo supplied.

"I feel very privileged to be working with such a valuable network of great growers, researchers and agronomists around me that are all working for the same goal; to ensure growers stay profitable and sustainable.

"I'm just humbled to work with such innovative growers, you are made to feel you are part of their lives and community and this is a great privilege."

Mr Swan's research has included work in perennial pastures in mixed farming operations, managing subsoil constraints, primer crops, break crops and nitrogen fixation, weed control, inter-cropping, stubble management, pulses and more recently farming systems projects.

"The last 30 years has been an accumulation of all the diverse research I've worked on and I am really enjoying integrating all of that knowledge for the benefit of farming systems research, something farmers do all the time," Mr Swan said.

Mr Swan said he believed improving management of nitrogen and water was crucial for the future of agriculture.

"Our farming systems research is doing just that - examining the legacy effects of both water and nitrogen in cropping and grazing crop farming systems," Mr Swan said.

"One of my interests is to get more pulses and nitrogen into the system, with these systems using use less water.

"However, we always need to ensure that growers maintain and increase profitability and sustainable. That's what excites me now."

The award was presented at the GRDC Research Update in Wagga Wagga on Tuesday.

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