Congratulations to SARDI research scientist Kenton Porker, who has been presented with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Region 2019 Emerging Leader Award.

The annual award – voted upon by the GRDC Southern Region Panel – acknowledges, encourages and rewards young emerging leaders of the grains industry in SA, Victoria and Tasmania.

Dr Porker, who is based in the Waite research precinct, is a highly respected research agronomist who has rapidly established a reputation for his dedication, enthusiasm and quality of work.

GRDC Southern Region Panel deputy chair Mike McLaughlin said Dr Porker’s trusted expertise and advice was often sought by the grains industry which has benefited enormously from his contribution so far.

“His work in the area of improving barley production through the GRDC’s Southern Barley Agronomy project has been particularly impactful, delivering new insights and understandings to enable growers to make the most from their crop varieties,” Dr McLaughlin said.

“Kenton’s research has concluded that optimum yield is best achieved by matching variety phenology to sowing time and environment to ensure flowering occurs at the right time to minimise exposure to frost, heat and moisture stress.

Kenton Porker (right) receives his 2019 GRDC Southern Emerging Leader Award from GRDC Southern Region Panel deputy chair Mike McLaughlin. Photo: GRDC

“His ongoing work involves developing new models to explain complex environmental interactions and he complements traditional approaches with new tools such as the use of novel multispectral cameras, thermal cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Having completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at The University of Adelaide in 2008, majoring in crop and pasture science, Dr Porker worked as a research scientist in SARDI’s New Variety Agronomy program between 2009 and 2014.

In 2011, while working full-time at SARDI, he received First Class Honours in plant nutrition from The University of Adelaide, completing a project in plant mineral nutrition, studying the improvement of phosphorus use efficiency in wheat. He completed a PhD in crop improvement – combining the disciplines of plant physiology, crop modelling, genetics and agronomy – in 2018.

Dr McLaughlin said Dr Porker had a unique ability to deliver industry-relevant information to growers while at the same time generating cutting-edge scientific publications.

Dr McLaughlin said the Emerging Leader Award was a financial scholarship that could be used for travel or another agreed activity to further the skills or expertise of the recipient.

“The award is designed to encourage the emerging leader to establish linkages that leverage international knowledge and opportunities to assist the Australian grains industry to address gaps in research and skills.

“The award fosters networking opportunities and the development of linkages with leading researchers from around the globe.

“We hope this will help Kenton in his efforts to identify new paths to profitability for our grain growers, which we know is the driving force behind all that he does.”

Source: GRDC Media release

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