Rural Consultant of the Year Winner: Ken Solly

South Australian Ken Solly has won the inaugural Rural Consultant of the Year award at the 2016 Australian Farmer of the Year awards held jointly by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural.
Rural Consultant of the Year Winner: Ken Solly Rural Consultant of the Year Winner: Ken Solly Rural Consultant of the Year Winner: Ken Solly Rural Consultant of the Year Winner: Ken Solly Rural Consultant of the Year Winner: Ken Solly

Alex Paull

The 63-year-old industry stalwart has won for his Naracoorte-based consultancy that spans a number of critical areas for farmers including farm business management; decision making; sheep production improvement; rural journalism; rural training and development; project management; conference speaking; coaching and mentoring; and human resource management.

For the past thirty years Ken has regularly supported and mentored young farmers, and up and coming industry consultants. He is especially active in encouraging and supporting young farmers applying for Nuffield Scholarships.

He has mentored a number of young consultants with Lifetime Ewe delivery in SA and Best Lamb Best Wool (BWBL) in Victoria. This developed their skills in planning, delivery strategies, group dynamics and managing difficult members. These consultants are now running their own groups and achieving positive benefits for participating farmers. 

Ken was also involved in supporting the Young Guns program in SA; building the skills of a young group of farmers in farm business management. This experience resulted in the development of the BWBL Young Producer Initiative, which has been successfully delivered to 70 young farmers across three pilot groups, with Victoria now planning the delivery to a further nine groups.

His commitment to the rural industry is well demonstrated through his acceptance of voluntary speaking engagements in distant rural communities. He is a strong advocate of building the resilience of rural communities and empowering individuals within these communities to achieve their potential.

Over the past thirty years Ken has delivered hundreds of training workshops to thousands of farmers. His impact on the future of the many farming families has been profound.

One farmer who has benefited positively from Ken’s support is industry colleague Ian McFarland, who runs the sheep connect program that Mr Solly delivers.

“Ken is a gentleman who has a real rapport with other farmers, willing to share his experiences and knowledge,” McFarland said.

He is prepared to share information and material with others – key qualities which Ian described as a real strength and his willingness spread his knowledge of the industry.

Ken himself said it was an “absolute honour” just to be considered worthy of nomination.

“‘Winning such an award is further endorsement of what I, my clients and friends have achieved together has been worthwhile and in many ways has been intrinsic,” Mr Solly said.

“It would provide yet another example of how committed effort is so worthwhile. It is a great endorsement for my life’s work and maybe provide another platform on which a new level of work could be achieved. It would provide a means of sharing success with so many people who have assisted me, believed in me and achieved greater outcomes through our involvements.”

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