Long service recognised at Grains Innovation Park
31 January 2019
Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity Leader, Michael Moerkerk, and Global Victoria Market Engagement Manager for India and the Middle East, Brian Kearns, have both celebrated 30 years working at Grains Innovation Park.
Both have had varied careers and are experts in their respective fields.
Considered one of Victoria’s leading weed and weed identification specialists, Mr Moerkerk has worked as a Weeds Agronomist, Weeds and Pasture Agronomist and Leading Biosecurity Officer over his long career, and is regularly sought out by farmers and agronomists to identify weeds and other plant species.
He has co-authored several weed identification books, including More Crop Weeds, Weeds - The Ute Guide and Herbicide damage ute guides. He has developed practical solutions for weed management – focusing on the emerging pulse and oilseeds industries, and difficult-to-control weeds in the Wimmera such as bedstraw and bifora.
He also helped develop the popular WeedStop training for civil contractors and local government, VicRoads and fodder industry employees to help minimise the spread of weeds.
“For me, the highlight has been sharing my knowledge on weed identification with the farming community through developing ‘seedling weed identification’ and ‘integrated weed management’ workshops for farmers,” he said.
Mr Kearns has been showcasing the best of the Wimmera, and Victoria, to the world.
Starting in Horsham as a Field Crops Extension Officer in 1989, he increasingly focused on international agri-food product markets and was part of Victoria’s first major agricultural trade mission to Indonesia in 1996. The visit had a lasting impact on his life and career.
“Trade missions are crucial to connect Victoria’s exporting companies to growing markets in the Middle East and Asia,” he said.
Mr Kearns has played an instrumental role in assisting Victorian food and beverage producers access overseas markets, leading trade missions to the Middle East and India. Next month he will lead a delegation of over 30 Victorian companies to Gulfood, one of the world’s largest food and beverage trade exhibitions in Dubai, with a market worth over $300 million in food exports from Victoria.
Closer to home, and earlier in his career, Mr Kearns played a large part in extending crop gross margin information to farmers – much of which is still used today.
Trade Victoria Market Engagement Manager, Brendan Larkin, said Mr Kearns was the Victorian Government’s “go-to grains specialist” source of information relating to markets. “He has vast experience, having worked in value-adding options for pulses and in market requirements and demand for the Victorian grain sector,” Mr Larkin said.
Both Mr Kearns and Mr Moerkerk said an interesting and diverse array of opportunities was behind their 30-year milestone. They agreed that strong relationships and positive collaboration had been the highlight – the people they have worked with and shared their knowledge with.
“It’s working with a diverse group of people and colleagues that makes it rewarding to come to work every day,” Mr Moerkerk said.
Reaching the milestone in January, Mr Moerkerk and Mr Kearns join a number of other Grains Innovation Park staff members who have amassed 30 or more years’ service, including Senior Technicians, Graham Exell and Russel Argall, and Technical Officers, Jayne Wilson and Dennis Ward, who reached 30 years in December.
Grains Innovation Park Site Leader Traci Griffin congratulated Mr Moerkerk and Mr Kearns on their impressive contribution over three decades.
“We are proud of the expertise and experience of our staff here in Horsham,” she said.
“Their work on agricultural research, development and extension is having an important impact on the local community, as well as taking the best of Victoria to the world.”
Find out more about the Grains Innovation Park.
Contact Name: Justine Severin
Contact Number: 0436 674 804
Categorised under: Biosecurity,Research,Agriculture