Growers are being urged to apply for one of four GRDC-sponsored Nuffield Scholarships available in 2020.
Each of the GRDC-supported scholarships provides a $30,000 bursary for the successful applicant to study a topic relevant to their business and the broader grains industry. Applications close on June 14 this year.
GRDC head of corporate affairs, Kylie Dunstan, said the GRDC's long-standing support of the Nuffield Scholarship program is an important investment in industry leadership, skills and capacity.
"Ensuring the grains industry has a pool of skilled leaders is vital for its enduring profitability and success, and the GRDC's support of the Nuffield Scholarship program is a very effective mechanism for achieving that end," Dunstan said.
"Many graduates of this program will go on to add further value to the grains industry through their participation in GRDC regional panels, cropping networks, grower representative organisations and boards," she said.
Nuffield Scholars embark on a global study programme over an 18-month period, exploring their chosen topic.
In the last 19 years, GRDC has supported 64 Nuffield Scholars. According to GRDC, all espouse the value of the program and its positive impact on their lives and livelihoods.
Among the cohort of Nuffield Scholars undertaking studies this year is GRDC-sponsored grower Andrew Sargent, of Crystal Brook in South Australia.
Andrew is investigating how farm sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT) can improve the efficiency and profitability of cropping and mixed farming enterprises.
A fifth-generation farmer with an eye on the future, Andrew runs a continuous cropping grain enterprise comprising wheat, barley, lentils, canola and oaten hay production across 2000 hectares of owned and leased land about 200 kilometres north of Adelaide.
Andrew is particularly focused on how new sensor technologies can allow for better weather observations and inform the decision-making process when it comes to climate variability, as well as reduce staff costs and monitoring times.
"To increase the scale of our operation, we'll need to utilise new technologies to bolster current practices. There's a lot of interest from Australian farmers in sensor technology, but we're lacking the knowledge and confidence to implement it successfully on farm," he said.
Andrew plans to travel to the Netherlands, which is leading the way in the free roll out of IoT networks currently used for smart city and environmental monitoring. Hi will also visit leading research institutions in Europe and agtech start-ups in the United States.
"Sensor technology opens up a host of benefits for the food and fibre supply chain, from grains right through to livestock and viticulture. I look forward to presenting my findings to industry, which I hope will provide insights that farmers can use to collect more regular and accurate data to inform decision-making."