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Meet the Change Makers: Announcing the 2021 Scholars

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Nineteen of Australia’s leading agriculturalists have been awarded prestigious Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarships for 2021.

These new Scholars will research innovative global concepts, techniques and systems that will create positive change in their own businesses, communities, and the broader agriculture sector.

Representing a diverse range of agricultural industries and key topic areas, Scholars will undertake a global study program using a $30,000 bursary, researching their chosen topic across 14 weeks.

Nuffield Australia CEO and 2013 Scholar, Jodie Redcliffe, said the 2021 Scholars are a cohort who have a shared mindset that change, adaptation and innovation are central to the future growth and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture sector and its businesses.

“For 70 years, Nuffield Australia has remained committed to ensuring the delivery of high-quality and valuable scholarship programs that drive industry leadership, particularly through periods of adaptation and change,” Ms Redcliffe said.

“Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Aussie farmers are facing significant pressures across domestic and international markets, variable seasonal conditions and evolving consumer demands.

“The 2021 Scholars are seeking to address some of these critical priorities by researching opportunities for new markets, the sustainable use of natural resources and strategies to meet societal expectations across all aspects of food and fibre production.

“Scholars will gain access to world-wide and world-class producers, agribusinesses and research institutions to conduct valuable research, that will drive change and innovation within Australia’s agricultural industries.

“With the generous support of their investors, Scholars will be able to put themselves in the driver’s seat for change, investigating topics that they’ll be able to apply in an Australian context, share with their peers, and start implementing for greater sustainability and growth.”

The 2021 Nuffield Scholarship recipients and their investors, are:


  • Georgia Beattie from Diggers Rest, supported by the William Buckland Foundation, will investigate secondary uses for spent mushroom compost (SMC) and its potential to be used to create mushroom packaging or regenerate soil in Australia.

  • Michael Densham from Main Ridge, supported by Hort Innovation, will investigate how the design of intensive production systems can drive increased productivity and profitability of small-scale farming operations.

  • Lucy Collins from Dixie, supported by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation, will investigate the value of dairy welfare benchmarking and opportunities for marketing Australian dairy products with an ethical advantage.

South Australia

  • Hans Loder from Coonawarra, supported by Wine Australia, will investigate vineyard data collection and management options that provide the greatest value and insights for Australian viticulturalists.

  • Josh McIntosh from Nadda, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), will investigate soil health improvement methods for broadacre organic production of dryland crops and livestock.


  • Kelly McTavish from Wamuran, supported by AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program, will investigate how emerging trends and technologies can drive animal welfare improvements in chicken meat farming production systems.

  • Leisa Sams from Peachester, supported by Woolworths, will investigate advanced management methods for stationary beekeeping operations that improve efficiencies, yield, and facilitate the production of high-quality honey and products within a quality assurance framework.

  • Pieter van Jaarsveld from Gore, supported by Meat & Livestock Australia, will investigate how crossbreeding rangeland and Boer goats can increase meat production and drive greater productivity and profit to the industry.

  • Tracey Martin from Home Hill, supported by Australian Agricultural Company, Consolidated Pastoral Company, Elders and S.Kidman & Co, will investigate funding issues that impact the financial sustainability of women’s groups and associations, which function to support women who are either currently or aspiring to, a career in the agriculture sector.

  • Andrew McKillop from Bellmere, supported by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments), will investigate how implementing a stringent food safety culture can drive sustainability and profitability within primary production businesses.

  • Joshua Maunder from Bellenden Ker, supported by Westpac Agribusiness, will investigate how the agricultural sector can adapt to rapidly changing climatic conditions through more resilient production methods.


  • Charles Downie from Gretna, supported by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and the JM Roberts Charitable Trust, will investigate how the establishment of training modules and programs in agricultural businesses can help better attract an existing workforce to meet short-term labour requirements.

Western Australia

  • Friedrich (Fritz) Bolten from Kununurra, supported by Cotton Australia and ANZ Bank, will investigate solutions to executing time sensitive operations on heavy soils during the wet season.

  • Camille Camp from Derby, supported by The Yulgilbar Foundation, will investigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and consumer expectations on the future of the northern Australia live export trade.

  • Kathryn Fleay from Mingenew, supported by CSBP Fertilisers, will explore how educating consumers and promoting career options in agriculture is fundamental to the growth and sustainability of Australia’s agricultural sectors.

  • Robert Bell from The Plains, supported by Agrifutures Pasture Seed Program, will investigate how subsurface drainage could be utilised to increase environmental nutrient retention and create more efficient farming practices, while sustainably capturing excess water for irrigation.

New South Wales

  • Andrew Rolfe from Cooma, supported by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), will research intensive management techniques and models for Merino sheep production, exploring how to develop a productive, sustainable and drought resilient farming system.

  • Michael Cains from Robertson, supported by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation (RASF), will research the benefits of raw milk cheese (RMC) production for the dairy industry, investigating best-practice approaches to production and RMC’s position within the mature cheese market.

  • Claire Petterson from Collingullie, supported by Animal Health Australia (AHA) and Plant Health Australia (PHA), will investigate global biosecurity practices that can be implemented in hay production businesses to increase profitability and sustainability for the industry.


Interviews and Scholar biographies: The new Scholars are available for interviews, and we can also provide bios outlining chosen research areas.

Please direct all requests to the media contact below.

Media contact:

Meg Pearce, Cox Inall Communications

P: 0433 780 217; E:

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