There would be few people within the Australian grains industry who have not benefited from the wisdom and experience of Dr Rob Norton.

The influence and impact of this well-respected agricultural researcher and educator is far-reaching – an achievement that has been officially acknowledged by way of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Region 2017 Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award.

The award, voted upon by the GRDC Southern Regional Panel, recognises Dr Norton’s contribution and commitment to the Australian grains industry.

In presenting the award, GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley said Dr Norton – the Horsham-based Australia and New Zealand Regional Director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) – was a highly valued member of the grains research and education community.

“In his role with IPNI, Rob is responsible for identifying and undertaking plant nutrition research projects to improve nutrient management, as well as developing educational programs to capitalise on these opportunities,” said Mr Pengilley when presenting the award at the GRDC Grains Research Update in Bendigo, Victoria.

“Prior to his appointment with IPNI, Rob worked for The University of Melbourne based in Horsham where he led projects on how climate change affects grain crops, soil and plant nutrition, oilseed agronomy, crop water use, alternative grain crops and farming systems.

“He led a climate change project in China, worked for a short time in Canada and has hosted scientists from India, China, Canada, Spain, and Iran on visits to Australia.

“He is the author of more than 130 book chapters, refereed journal and conference papers, as well as another 300 conference and extension articles.

“And he has invested in the next generation by successfully supervising 14 higher degree students, and teaching a generation of undergraduate students.”

The Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award is a financial scholarship and can be used for travel or another agreed activity to further the skills or expertise of the recipient.

“We trust that through this award, Rob will network and strengthen linkages with world-leading researchers to identify relevant research and technologies for adoption back here in Australia,” Mr Pengilley said.

Dr Norton dedicated his award to all those with whom he has been associated over many years. “They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well it takes a community to achieve things such as this award,” he said.

“My research colleagues, university colleagues, the students and the advisers and farmers I’ve worked with – this is really for them.

“And I would also like to acknowledge IPNI – an amazing organisation supported by the international fertiliser industry that has given me the opportunity to attend events such as the GRDC Updates to share ways to use plant nutrients sustainably.

“I also recognise the importance of the GRDC and its support to myself, my colleagues, and the entire grains industry,” Dr Norton said.

Image: Rob Norton (left) receives the GRDC Southern Region 2017 Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award from GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley, at the GRDC Grains Research Update in Bendigo.

This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.