Irrigated agriculture in the State’s north has been given a boost with the appointment of respected agricultural scientist, David McNeil to drive a reinvigorated tropical cropping research program in the region.
Professor McNeil returns to Western Australia, after serving as an agronomist in the Kimberley region in the 1980s, with more than 40 years of experience in farming systems research and new industry development in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States.
He will be based at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Frank Wise Research Institute, leading a team of experts committed to advancing current research into food and fibre crops, as well as examining opportunities to cultivate new crops in the region.
Professor McNeil will work closely with local growers and industry, while also building collaborations with the public and private sector research community including universities, the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia and the Northern Australia Crop Research Alliance.
He will also continue his work in the region with the department and an international consortium exploring the potential to cultivate plantago, a herbaceous plant from which psyllium is produced for use in supplements and as a replacement for gluten.
As stated by Regional Development and Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“It is fantastic to have Professor McNeil on board, who will play an instrumental role in leading the department’s efforts to take irrigated agriculture in the Ord River Irrigation Area to the next level.
“Professor McNeil and his team will work closely with industry, governments and researchers to ensure there is strong science behind new crop opportunities to advance globally competitive irrigated agricultural production in the region.
“The McGowan Government is rebuilding agricultural research and development in the north: we have reinvigorated the Frank Wise Research Institute with capital and human investment.
“The centre is now fully utilised, while the department is recruiting new scientists to its experienced team of researchers at Kununurra.
“We look forward to new, exciting advancements in tropical agriculture in the Ord as it expands, which will generate diversity, jobs and growth in the Kimberley.”