Board Member Profiles
Janette Ridgway, Chair - South East
Janette works on a diverse farming enterprise with her husband and son at Pine Hill, growing broad acre crops, gladiolus bulbs and sheep.
With a passion for agriculture, community and family, Janette is the Ag Bureau’s Chair. She see her role on the Board to support the organization and its 65 branches to meet regularly to talk, grow, share and learn from one another. Janette belongs to her local Ag Bureau branch and understands how Ag Bureau membership benefits all farming businesses and their families.
Darren Kennedy, Treasurer - Riverland and Murraylands
Continuing a long family tradition in agriculture, Darren spent his early years on a wheat and sheep property on the Eyre Peninsula before his family moved to the Riverland. His school years meant coming home to picking oranges and grapes, and cutting apricots. Darren and his wife took over the vineyards from his parents and recently expanded into dried sultanas, and together they do their best to balance work with family and sporting commitments.
President of the Barmera Ag Bureau branch since 2014, Darren believes the Ag Bureau’s history and structure from the top of agricultural governance through to the full breadth of grass-roots communities make it the ideal vehicle for moving information and “giving voice to the non-activists within the rural community.”
Darren would like to see the full range of modern technologies utilised to support the growth and development of the agriculture industry and, as an active participant in lobbying for innovation and growth, Darren admires the Ag Bureau’s ability to affect change.
Bevan Oster - Mid North and Yorke Peninsula
A firm believer in making hay while the sun shines, Bevan has been farming on his family’s mixed enterprise farm, 5km from Petersville, since the time he left school.
He is married to Christine and they have two daughters and a son who also enjoys agriculture.
Bevan has ventured far and wide but always returned to his home turf and his time is now occupied with growing wheat, barley, lentils and hay, feeding sheep and cattle as well as marketing produce and maintaining anything that’s broken.
Working to foster a network of skills and information to bring technology and best practice to ABSA’s members and the wider farming community, Bevan says ABSA membership is good for the soil and great for the soul.
Corbin Schuster - Barossa and Light
Corbin Schuster is a farmer from Freeling, West of the Barossa Valley and represents the Barossa and Light region in South Australia.
Growing up on a diverse farm producing hay (domestic and export), grain, straw and pigs, Corbin is passionate about growing high quality products & value-adding on farm produce.
He has attended Freeling Ag Bureau meetings for nearly 15 years, and sees Ag Bureau as an important social network for SA farmers - Corbin says if you get a group of farmers together, inevitably they will start to talk about farming, the good, the bad, what works and what doesn't work. Constructive ideas for improvement come from these social discussions!
Clem Fitzgerald - Eyre Peninsula
Clem has been farming in the Kimba area since 1971 and he is a founding member of Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group. Over the years Clem has been a member of numerous agriculture groups including the Stockowners Association of SA and the South Australian Farmers Federation. Twenty five years ago Clem with his wife Sherryl and their son Leigh, implemented changes to their farm including no till and liquid systems with variable rate seeding to get the best out of their land, cropping and sheep.
Clem also spent time in local government as Mayor, served on the regional and state Local Government Association executive committee and the regional Natural Resources Management board. He chaired numerous committees at state and federal levels including the National Heritage Trust and he remains involved in contracting, mining and transport. Semi-retired, Clem is keen to direct more time into supporting the farming community.
Clem says ABSA provides great initiatives to support its branches and has a critical role in advocating on behalf of its 1300 members who cover diverse production and businesses across the state.
Ex-officio board members
Dr Rhiannon Schilling - SARDI
Raised on a mixed cropping and livestock property in the state’s Upper South East, Rhiannon is an agricultural scientist based at the Waite campus in the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine at The University of Adelaide. Rhiannon was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Plant Sciences in 2014 and her research expertise is multi-disciplinary, involving plant physiology and nutrition, molecular biology, soil science and remote sensing technologies.
At the forefront of a continually changing industry, Rhiannon is involved in various research projects funded by the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), South Australian Grains Industry Trust (SAGIT) and Australian Government. Her primary research focus is to pyramid tolerance to multiple subsoil constraints into wheat to develop new pre-breeding lines with improved root growth in sodic soils with controlled greenhouse experiments and field trials throughout Australia.
Rhiannon contributes to research on dryland salinity, saline seeps and acid soils in SA using remotely piloted aircraft fitted with various sensors to non-destructively assess the performance of wheat varieties.
As an Ex-officio member of the board, Rhiannon is a direct link between Ag Bureau members and agricultural researchers at The University of Adelaide. She encourages members to make contact if they would like to discuss the latest in research findings or help guide the direction of future agricultural research to ensure it remains relevant and useful.
Tim Herrmann - DEW
Tim has worked in the area of soils, land management, landcare and natural resources management for more than 35 years. He currently leads the Sustainable Soils team in the Department for Environment and Water (DEW). The team is responsible for leading and developing strategies and projects that improves the health and sustainable management of soils in both the agricultural and broader landscape.
Key programs include soil protection, managing soil acidity, soil carbon and landscape productivity. The programs are delivered through partnerships with the agricultural industry, Landscape SA regions, grower groups, research Institutions, and other agencies.
Tim has represented DEW as an Ex-officio member of the Agricultural Bureau Board since 2014 and he says DEW values the partnership with the Agricultural Bureau of SA and their shared common goal to improve the sustainability of our natural resources and farming systems.
Brian Hughes - PIRSA
Brian is a Soil and Land Management Consultant who works out of PIRSA’s Nuriootpa Research Centre on a range of soil, and sustainable agriculture related projects. He is part of a sustainable agriculture team in PIRSA with staff regionally located across South Australia. An Ag Bureau ex-officio member, Brian connects with PIRSA staff where relevant issues are raised. He also co-ordinates and supports a range of partnership projects developed with the Ag Bureau and its branches to improve production or sustainability of farming enterprises.
Run by farmers for farmer, Brian believes the Ag Bureau is a great way for farmers to improve their knowledge and skills with credible and local groups focussed on agricultural issues and farm improvement.
Brett Smith - Rural Business Support
Brett Smith is the CE of Rural Business Support. Brett Smith’s extensive agribusiness experience nationally has helped Rural Business Support (RBS) to diversify its brand through the development and delivery of new programs and services to build a strong and resilient agricultural sector.
Helping small rural and regional businesses be better equipped to withstand natural disasters, Brett has positioned RBS as a key player to support those farming families in need of extra assistance through the effective delivery of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) in SA and NT.
With a passion for agriculture, Brett is an accomplished agribusiness executive with strong marketing and business development credentials having held key roles with Orica Ltd, Cropcare, Incitec Pivot Ltd, Elders Ltd and Penrice Ltd. Brett spent 15+ years working ‘on farm’ with primary producers across most sectors, providing technical and agronomic information to improve productivity and profitability.
Brett has a proven history of leading business strategic development, implementation and delivery through aligning internal teams and collaborative stakeholder engagement. Brett’s strong leadership qualities, business acumen, energetic and ethical approach and proven communication style has enabled outstanding results in service delivery.
Jenna Malone - University of Adelaide
Jenna is a researcher with the Weed Science Research Group within the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. The group conducts research in the areas of integrated weed management, herbicide resistance, weed ecology and crop-weed interactions in Australian broad-acre farming systems. Jenna’s research has a focus on the evolution and biochemical mechanisms of herbicide resistance in weeds, and management of these herbicide resistant weeds in agricultural systems.
The Weed’s Group has a strong relationship with the GRDC, through which they received much of their funding. They also work closely with farming systems groups in the southern and western regions, enabling rapid transfer of project outputs to growers and advisers.
Dr Ashlea Doolette - University of Adelaide
Ashlea is a lecturer and researcher in soil science at the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.
Her research interests in particular are in soil and plant nutrition and how nutrients are stored, transformed and cycled in soils and returned to the plant.
Ashlea is currently working in a variety of different systems e.g. broad acre crops, pastures and vineyards and has spent each year teaching on 250 Agriculture and Viticulture students her expertise in soil science.
As an ex-officio member of the board since 2016 Ashlea is a link between Ag Bureau members and not only the diverse range agricultural researchers at UoA but also the students who are going to play an important role in the future of Ag.