Invited Speakers

Screenshot 2024-06-11 082727.png Dean Bull

Dean from On Point Drones has been involved in Aerial agriculture for the last 14 years with the initial 11 years as a commercial helicopter pilot. With a shift in lifestyle, Dean started an agricultural Drone company in 2021, specializing in Spraying and Spreading. Dean’s Drones work year-round throughout Victoria and Southern NSW spraying, spreading and baiting. Over a wide range of Agricultural crops including Pasture, Cereal, Rice and Corn. Dean’s clients are always coming up with new and exciting ways to use Drones, for example applying algaecide to water bodies, applying and removing Whitewash in horticulture etc. On Point Drones also holds contracts with Forestry and other government bodies. Dean sees drones in agriculture continuing to grow rapidly in many ways that couldn’t even be imaginable. Over the last 12 months Dean has been working closely with Hardi in the development of Drones for weed detection. Dean sees this becoming big part of his business, with the development of green-on-green weed detection becoming very accurate. This is already being used with a variety of different spray rigs. Dean is always happy to talk about where the use of drones in agriculture currently is and where its heading, it is also a great way to find new ideas from clients and how these ideas can be made possible. Please feel free to ask Dean any questions you may have regarding drones in agriculture or anything related to aerial application.


Fiona Conroy.jpg Fiona Conroy

Fiona Conroy and her husband Cam Nicholson run Knewleave Partnership, a 400ha grazing operation running Angus cattle and fine wool Merinos on the Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong. Their farm operation has a strong focus on productivity, animal welfare and environmental management They have undertaken extensive tree planting, pasture improvement, paddock subdivision, soil testing, stock water reticulation, livestock performance recording as well as monitoring changes in biodiversity. Measuring and monitoring soil fertility and moisture levels, pasture cover and growth rates, animal performance and condition score are just some of the tools used to make on farm decisions, manage risk and respond to changing climatic conditions. In recent years they have been exploring the opportunities and challenges around carbon accounting and reporting at a farm level so they can respond to emerging market signals for lower carbon emissions and stronger environmental credentials. Fiona has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and have previously worked with the Victorian Department of Agriculture and as a journalist at The Weekly Times. Fiona has been a farmer member of the Victorian Agriculture and Climate Change Council which is a ministerial advisory council that provides independent advice to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture on how the agricultural sector can prepare for, and respond to, the impacts of climate change.


website.png Richard Eckard

Richard is Professor and Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, University of Melbourne. His research focuses on carbon farming and accounting towards carbon neutral agriculture, managing extreme climate events and options for agriculture to respond to a changing climate. Richard is a science advisor to the Victorian, Australian, New Zealand, UK and EU governments, the International Livestock Research Institute and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on climate change adaptation, mitigation and policy development in agriculture.


website.png Mark Ferguson 

Mark has spent his career in the livestock industry in Australia and New Zealand. He's the founder and CEO of neXtgen Agri - an innovation and consulting company that has clients across Australia and New Zealand. He is also a cofounder of Genesmith a company dedicated to bringing the power of Artificial Intelligence to the livestock  industry. Mark has a PhD in genetics and a passion for enabling farmers to implement effective strategies to get the most out of their livestock. He is also the host of the  Head Shepherd podcast.  Mark grew up on the family farm in the Victorian Mallee, and now lives with his family in Christchurch, New Zealand.


photo.png Mel Fraser 

Dr Melissa Fraser from Soil Function Consulting is the Limestone Coast’s resident soil scientist, working across research and development, extension and education and on-farm diagnosis of constraints. She fell in love with the region when she started her PhD in 2005 and has spent more than 20 years working across SA, Qld and the NT exploring solutions to the challenges that our farmers face. Dr Fraser is passionate about soil health and the role it plays in growing healthy plants, crops, animals and humans and will share the latest results and recommendations on soil carbon and areas to focus on to lower on-farm emissions.


Bio Photo-Kym Lyons.JPEG Kym Lyons 

Kym Lyons grew up on a livestock farm at Melville Forest in Western Victoria. After completing a Science degree and PhD at Monash University he worked in the biopharmaceutical industry for several years before returning to the family farm in 2006. He currently runs Warooka Pastoral Co. with his wife Julie and parents John and Joan. Warooka Pastoral Co is a 2950Ha farm spread over two sites north of Hamilton, running a self-replacing merino and 1st cross sheep flock. The operation produces 18.5mm merino wool, finishes 1st and 2nd cross lambs for the trade and surplus merinos for the mutton market.


website.png Bill Mitchell 

Bill Mitchell is a beef producer from northern NSW and founder of Optiweigh. Bill grew up on a family sheep and cattle farm near Armidale. He studied Applied Science at University  of NSW in Sydney  before spending the next 15 years in agricultural commodity trading and export – mainly in the wool industry and with Dalgety/Wesfarmers where he held the  role of National Manager, Trading and Risk Management. On returning to the New England area Bill teamed up with wife Jacqui to evolve their farming business into a specialty grass certified backgrounding and finishing system – and in doing so turned a traditional New England farm into a business capable of turning off slaughter cattle all year round at high stocking rates and with no supplementary feeding. A search for solutions to get better insight into cattle growth rates led to Bill developing Optiweigh over the years 2014-2018. In 1019 he proceeded to commercialise Optiweigh and has gown it into a business that has now sold over 700 units around Australia and into 5 other export destinations.


Lisa Miller head shot.JPG Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller is a senior research and extension officer, located near Geelong with Southern Farming Systems, a mixed farming group addressing farmers interests in high rainfall mixed cropping and grazing enterprises in southwest Victoria, Gippsland and Tasmania. Lisa previously worked for 20 years with Department of Primary Industries, Victoria in the pastures area before joining SFS in 2013. Lisa within SFS helps lead the pasture program and has undertaken testing of lime and biological products in pastures and communication of their results, facilitated action research groups and created numerous products (factsheets, videos, training courses, producer stories and tools) for producers to enjoy including the MLA Factsheet: How do I identify sub-clover cultivars and an accompanying video both found at https://www.mla.com.au/extension-training-and-tools/feedbase-hub/legumes-hub/.


Screenshot 2024-05-21 111022.png Nathaniel Modra

Nathaniel is an experienced and knowledgeable agricultural professional who grew up on a cattle and sheep property at Western Flat in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. He is currently an Agribusiness Consultant for Pinion Advisory within the Farm business Team. He has a strong interest and understanding of livestock production and farm benchmarking and his skills include business management, financial analysis, and a practical knowledge of primary production business drivers. Nathaniel’s passion is to develop and maintain sustainable and profitable farming systems for current and future generations.


website.png Michael Nash 

Dr Michael Nash grew up on the family farm in Western Victoria, within eyesight of Mt Shadwell on an otherwise flat, treeless plain. Taking over from his father after leaving school, Michael changed the enterprise from grazing to farming. After 12 years Michael returned to university where he completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne. Michael Nash is a strong advocate for conservation of native species in productive landscapes that provide ecosystem services. An applied invertebrate ecologist, Dr Nash aims to provide crop  protection solutions that are based on how species within agriculture interact with each other and their environment. Michael is a regular contributor at GRDC, CCA, NRI, LLS, DPI and agricultural company events. Industry accepts Michael Nash as a leader in the study of the biology, habits, and control of snails and slugs in Australia.


tim prance website.png Tim Prance 

Tim is a Chartered Agriculturist (CAg) with 50 years’ experience farm consulting in pasture production and management, pasture utilisation by grazing animals and soil, plant and animal nutrition across both dryland and irrigated farms in SA, Victoria and Tasmania. Tim consults to farmers in the high rainfall permanent pasture districts of South Australia and western Victoria. He has delivered PROGRAZE® workshops to many landholders, facilitated LifeTime Ewe Management and Pasture Productivity Groups and delivered Top Fodder workshops and the Dairy Forage Skills program. Tim has recently updated the PROGRAZE course for Meat and Livestock Australia, which has been released as a Profitable Grazing Systems workshop called Gra$$ to Dollars. Gra$$ to Dollars has now been delivered to 150 landholders in SA, Victoria and NSW. Tim has managed pasture-based research projects and published the results in refereed journals. Tim has been a member of the Grassland Society since 1983, was President in 2011/12 and is currently Chair of the Grassland Society Board


Picture1.jpg Kieran Ranson

Kieran Ransom is a part time consultant after retiring with 40 years of agricultural extension and research experience with the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, mainly in Bendigo. He has expertise in sheep and crop production, financial analyses of farming systems, soils and climate and rainfall uncertainty and whole farm system modelling.  In 2012 an analysis of climate, seasonal and price risk using real farm data with the Victorian DPI indicated some farming systems have been resilient to the climate and price uncertainty over the previous 13 years of highly variable seasons. These lucerne-crop farming systems reduce price risk by marketing three commodities; meat, wool and grains and reduce winter crop seasonal risk by profiting from unpredictable summer storms. Kieran has worked closely with farmers in facilitating discussion groups, delivering technical information and conducting field trials. Early in his career he helped in the conduct of 35 wether trials and more recently 25 Prograze courses. He has also conducted 8 grazing management experiments and demonstrations. Kieran has authored many technical documents. He is the principal author of two books and three chapters in books. He has also presented and published at over 40 conferences. Recently he has worked a volunteer with the Elmore Field Days projects comparing breeds of ewe for prime lamb and wool production over 10 years.  He continues to work with the farming community as a BestWool-BestLamb group facilitator.


website.png Jim Shovelton

Jim is a Senior Consultant with Meridian Agriculture.  He started his career as a pasture agronomist with the Department at Bendigo, Wodonga and then Seymour. This was followed by the appointment as senior agronomist with Richland Laboratories, a joint venture between the Department and an international company, to commercialise soil and plant testing services. During the period 1997–2002 he managed Australian Wool Innovation’s (AWI) pasture extension program (Grassland Productivity /Triple P Programs) for southern Australia and was responsible for the supervision of 25 facilitators. This program involved on-farm trials with 1200 producers in four states. The program defined animal  responses to fertilizer application in practical farming systems in the south-eastern states of Australia and established new guidelines for fertilizer application to pastures. Between 2002 and 2007 he developed and managed AWI’s producer extension program for NSW. Involvement in other projects have included the evaluation the Evergraze project, the development of research and extension priorities for the southern Australian Feedbase and the development of research priorities for pests and diseases of pastures in southern Australia for Meat and Livestock Australia.


Picture1.jpg Andrew Spiers 

Andrew Speirs is a Board member and Senior Agronomy Consultant with Meridian Agriculture. Highly regarded in the agricultural industry, Andrew specialises in soil and plant nutrition, and their roles in pasture, crop and livestock production. He has designed, managed and assessed numerous national and local technical trials for industry, government and private agribusiness over the past 25 years. Andrew managed one of the first six Pasture Trial Network (PTN) Trials funded by MLA which was a foundation for the current PTN now funded by the Australian Seed Federation in conjunction with MLA (Dairy Australia). This has led to trials involving specific pasture varieties being evaluated under whole paddock year round grazing of livestock, to gain information regarding actual liveweight gain per hectare, and persistence of these species under hooves and mouths, not under lawn mowers. He has set up some of these trials with Seed Companies, others have been on farm with existing clients. Based out of Meridian Agriculture’s Casterton Office, Andrew provides advice to farming clients across western Victorian and into South Australia. Andrew has facilitated Better Beef, Lifetime Ewe and Best Wool Best Lamb Groups and is an accredited presenter of the Bred Well Fed Well program. He is a past president of the Grasslands Society of Southern Australia. Andrew holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree from La Trobe University and has extensive practical experience in grassland farming. He runs a 200-hectare property near Casterton, managing approximately 300 composite ewes; and 80 Angus cows.  Andrew has facilitated producer educational seminars and understands the importance of sourcing the right genetics (plant and animal) for a producer’s environment, management system and market. Andrew Speirs is a highly regarded agronomist, who specialises in soil and plant nutrition, and their roles in pasture, crop and livestock production. He is board member and senior agronomy consultantr for Meridian Agriculture, Andrew has designed, managed and assessed numerous national and local technical trials for industry, government and private agribusiness over the past 25 years. He is also a past president of the Grasslands Society of Southern Australia. Based at Meridian's Casterton office, he provides advice to farm clients from Mount Gambier to Warrnambool. Andrew has facilitated Better Beef, Lifetime Ewe and Best Wool Best Lamb Groups and is an accredited presenter of the Bred Well Fed Well program.  Andrew holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree from La Trobe University and has extensive practical experience in grassland farming. He and his wife, Andrea, own a 200-hectare property near Casterton, where they run approximately 300 composite ewes; and 120 Angus cows. Andrew has used Australian Sheep Breeding Values and Estimated Breeding Values on his own farm for 20 years, and has assisted a number of producers to set and implement their own breeding objectives. Andrew has facilitated producer educational seminars and understands the importance of sourcing the right genetics for a producer’s environment, management system and market.


Screenshot 2024-05-27 083024.png Lisa Warn 

Lisa Warn is an Agricultural Consultant and Director of Lisa Warn Ag Consulting Pty Ltd. (based at her property in Glenaroua, near Seymour in central Vic). Lisa has over 30 years experience working in the grazing industries in south-eastern Australia, with expertise in Pasture agronomy and Sheep and Beef production systems. As well as consulting to individual clients, working with producer groups and delivering pasture and livestock related training programs throughout her career, she has also run numerous research projects on Victorian farms focussing on pasture improvement, perennial species persistence, soil fertility, evaluation of fertiliser products, and grazing management. Lisa is a former president of the GSSA (1995/96), current Vice President mid-Goulburn Branch and is a on several industry advisory committees with MLA and AWI.