Eight of the agriculture industry's standout growers, advisers and influencers have been named national winners in the latest Syngenta Growth Awards, which were announced during a livestream event.
If you missed it you can watch it here.
The award winners were selected by an independent judging panel from a pool of more than 40 nominees based across Australia and New Zealand.
Paul Luxton, Country Head and Managing Director Syngenta ANZ, says the standard of nominees, regional winners and national award recipients is as high as it has ever been since the program was launched in 2014.
"We are fortunate in both Australia and New Zealand to have a wealth of growers, advisers and industry champions who are forever looking for ways to improve, to find new opportunity, to share insights and ideas and to work for the good of the whole industry," he said.
"I offer my heartfelt congratulations not only to the overall winners but to the regional winners and every nominee. Thank you for work you do."
The winners were to have been announced at a red carpet gala event in Sydney, but COVID restrictions meant the event could not proceed. Winners will not miss the chance to celebrate, though, with a series of state-based business workshops and recognition dinners planned for as soon as practical.
What the judges had to say
Despite the depth and breadth of experience across the winners' group, the judging panel saw a few things in common, including a willingness to work through challenges, openness to sharing ideas and determination to succeed.
Judging panel member Brianna Casey, CEO of Foodbank Australia, said being part of the program brought her great joy in the difficult period of lockdowns and restrictions.
"We are so reliant upon Australian agriculture and the incredible rural and regional communities that contribute to it," she said.
"It has been a delight to be involved in these awards because it has reminded me there are so many extraordinary growers and advisers out there, committed to being more sustainable, more profitable, more effective and a signature of Australian agriculture globally."
Big shoes to fill
Since its launch in 2014, the Syngenta Growth Awards program has recognised 40 overall winners - not including the newest crop.
Several program alumni participated in this year's program by joining the announcements, and a group of past winners will also be invited to business workshops with finalists in various states before joining them at a celebration dinner to mark their success.
Tony Lockrey, who won the Community and People Adviser Award in 2018, said during the livestream that when he joined the winners ranks he found himself intimidated by the horsepower and agricultural know-how of the people in the room - but soon realised the great value of this new network.
"Bringing together people at the top of their game, not only from Australia but New Zealand too, was a real accelerator for understanding more about ag systems," he said. "Being able to spend time together and compare notes, we learned so much from each other."
His advice to the new winners was to make the most of the opportunities that being a Growth Awards winner presents. "Don't be shy - hook in, ask the questions and share your experiences," he said.
Meet the winners
This category recognises growers and advisers who use best practice in achieving consistent productivity gains.
Adam Schreurs - Grower, Schreurs & Sons, Clyde, Victoria
Comments from Adam: "I'm very humbled to win this award. Productivity in our industry is something that I am very passionate about and something that I have put a lot of time and effort into in the past few years."
Chris Toohey - Adviser, Elders, Albury NSW
Comments from Chris: "I didn't expect to be a winner in this very high achieving field of advisers. I have got a lot out of being part of this program. It's a great honour."
This category recognises growers and advisers who are committed to addressing industry issues to create a sustainable and profitable future.
Simon Doolin - Grower, Doolin Agriculture, North Star, NSW
Comments from Simon: "It's a huge honour to win. We are really just doing what we love doing anyway, so this is a bonus for all of us who work on the farm."
Linda Peacock - Adviser, Kiwifruit Vine Health Inc, Tauranga, New Zealand
Comments from Linda: "This feels like the Olympics, and I am glad to see New Zealand up on the podium! When you look back over the years, it's the one little thing you do day after day that makes the difference."
COMMUNITY AND PEOPLE
This category recognises growers and advisers who make a leading contribution to their community, workers and fellow growers.
Brett South - Grower, Esperance, WA
Comments from Brett: "Thank you so much. We've been trying to take a young group of farmers to the UK. That's been postponed because of COVID. If we could establish a network which shows the good side of agriculture, then it could encourage people to come into the industry, and with a social framework in place, that might help. Not only would they try agriculture but if they are supported, they would stay."
Alex Thomas - Adviser and founder of 'plant a Seed for Safety', Torrens Park, SA
Comments from Alex: "What an honour! Plant a Seed for Safety is going to go places like it never has before in the coming 12 months and this just reinforces that I am on the right track and it's on the agenda, so I am so chuffed!"
This new category, introduced for this round of the Awards, recognises trailblazing growers, advisers and industry influencers who contribute to innovation in agriculture or apply game-changing technologies.
Sarah Nolet - CEO, AgThentic & Farmers2Founders; General Partner, Tenacious Ventures, Sydney, NSW
Comments from Sarah: "I'm so thrilled to be the inaugural winner in the Innovator category. Innovation in ag is what I am passionate about and what I believe we need to build a future that's competitive, prosperous and sustainable."
A special discretionary award bestowed by the judging panel on the nominee who has made a significant contribution to the agriculture industry in the areas of sustainability, productivity, innovation, and community and people.
Grace Brennan - Buy from the Bush, Dubbo, NSW
Comments from Grace: "I'm a bit emotional about this! I happened to be able to come to the Growth Awards last time with my husband who was being recognised and I remember enjoying meeting everybody and being so inspired. From that I took the idea of using corporate responsibility and building something very long lasting and important for rural communities. There's a role to play for off farm enterprises, often women-led, so this means a lot."
To find out more about the winners, head to https://www.syngenta.com.au/growth-awards-2020
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This is partner content for Syngenta Australia.