For more information on this year’s Australian Almond Conference please contact the ABA Office on +61 8 8584 7053 or email email@example.com
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Meet our Speakers
Accredited Sports Dietitian & Accredited Practising Dietitian
Simone is an accredited sports dietitian with over 20 years experience. Simone has spoken at many corporate events and conferences on health including Sports Medicine’s Australia, Sports Dietitians Australia, the Exercise Sports Science Australia conference, and the AFL Grand Final Medical Symposium.
Having seen the Hawthorn AFL Football Club through three consecutive Grand Final wins, her success as a Dietitian speaks for itself.
She has previously worked with many other elite men’s sporting teams, the Australian Men’s Cricket Team through their very successful period of the early 2000s, Melbourne City A League, Western Bulldogs AFL, Melbourne Storm Rugby League club & the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union club. She consults privately to the general public and other elite & sub elite athletes.
She is the president of Sports Dietitians Australia and a media spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia having presented on radio, television and written numerous newspaper, magazine and online articles.
Simone works at Swisse Wellness part time having assisted with development of the sports nutrition range and has an interest in the regulations around nutrition products. Providing practical nutrition advice that turns the science of nutrition into achievable and enjoyable dietary intakes is the goal to Simone’s dietetic practice.
President, Beem Consulting/Beem AgroSciences Corp USA
Lance’s company Beem Agro Sciences conducts contract research, consulting and demonstrations focused on development of new pesticides, fertilisers, natural products and generally regarded as safe compounds. His business is designed to integrate conventional/and non-conventional plant regulation, nutrition and pest management practices. He has extensive expertise in herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, plant hormones, plant extracts, antioxidants, glycoside chemistry. He consults with large and small farmers, companies and individuals seeking registrations. Prior to beginning his own business, Lance was engaged by Stoller Enterprises for numerous years as a Market Development Manager in major and minor crops.
Chairman & Sunraysia Grower Representative, Almond Board of Australia
Neale has been involved with almonds since converting his family farm from vines in 1992. Neale also operates a contract almond harvesting business, Cowanna Harvesting. His appointment as Deputy Chairman and Sunraysia Region Grower Representative on the ABA Board follows positions as Secretary, Treasurer and Chairman of the Sunraysia region of the Australian Almond Growers’ Association (AAGA). Neale’s committee positions include the Audit, Remuneration and Conference Committees. He was also a member of the Almond Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) and now sits on the Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) for almonds.
Manager, Plant Science Consulting
Peter Boutsalis grew up in Renmark, SA. His parents owned a vineyard/orchard property between 1970-1984. Peter has been involved in Herbicide Resistance for over 25 years. He graduated from The University of Adelaide in 1996 with a PhD investigating the first cases of broadleaf weed resistance to Group B herbicides in Australia. He was employed as a herbicide-weed biologist in Europe by an international company for almost a decade. Since 2005 he has been employed as a researcher with the University of Adelaide investigating the management of herbicide resistant weeds and investigating new mode of action herbicides. He also manages Plant Science Consulting, an Adelaide based company specialising in commercial Herbicide Resistance Testing and customised pot trials for the chemical industry.
Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO
Dr. Rob Bramley is a Senior Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO’s Agriculture Flagship and is the Site Leader for CSIRO Waite Campus in Adelaide. He has worked as a soil chemist, on land-use sustainability issues, and since 1996, has had a primary research focus on Precision Agriculture and the management of variability in agricultural production systems. He has just completed a significant multi-agency Precision Agriculture project in the Australian sugar industry and, since 1999, has been a pioneer in the development of Precision Viticulture for winegrape production systems, now leading a newly funded project on within-vineyard yield-grape quality interactions. He is the author of over 290 research articles including 46 in refereed international journals and has spoken on Precision Agriculture at numerous international conferences around the world.
Technical Manager, Select Harvests
Ben Brown joined Select Harvests as Technical Manager in November 2014. Ben’s role at Select Harvests is to lead the development, monitoring and evaluation of the horticultural program, and assist in its implementation. In addition, Ben is also an integral member of the Project Team that’s responsible for the development of greenfield orchards and expansion of the company’s horticultural assets.
Before joining Select Harvests, Ben was the Industry Development Manager at the Almond Board of Australia for nearly eight years, and an irrigation and soil agronomist at Yandilla Park for a similar duration. In addition to this, Ben’s had experience in the applied production of almonds, stonefruit, citrus and carrots.
Ben is an Applied Science graduate with Honours in Soil Science and has nearly 20 years’ experience across perennial irrigated horticulture with expertise in: orchard development; production horticulture; the development of detailed RD&E strategies; and extension and technology transfer of best practice.
Michael Clarke is an agricultural economist (University of Sydney 1987) and strategic analyst (Diploma of Business Strategy 2002) with more than twenty-five years’ experience preparing industry investment plans. Michael commenced his professional career with the NSW Government in 1987 working as an agricultural economist providing industry analysis and policy advice. He spent two years in London with Cargill Technical Services before joining agricultural consultants Hassall & Associates in 1990. Michael went on to lead Hassall’s Australian Consulting Division before leaving to form his own consultancy, AgEconPlus, in 2004.
Michael has prepared industry investment plans for a range of agricultural industries including Rice, Livestock, Pork, Poultry, Floriculture, New Zealand kiwifruit, honey bees and pollination. His experience in Australian horticulture has included review of Horticulture Australia Limited’s performance against its first statutory funding agreement, economic evaluation of citrus export arrangements to the US and completion of all cost benefit analyses associated with the HAL R&D program between 2008 and 2014. Michael has developed investment plans for apple and pear, avocado, banana, citrus, nursery, summerfruit, turf and vegetables. He is currently preparing Strategic Investment Plans for Chestnut, Macadamia and Almonds.
Lecturer & Researcher, School of Allied Health Sciences, University of South Australia
Associate Prof Coates is a lecturer and researcher in the School of Health Sciences at the University of South Australia. As a nutritional scientist, she is interested in how bioactive compounds from food can reduce risk factors for obesity, cardiometabolic diseases and impaired cognitive function. Alison has been involved in over 20 clinical trials using nutritional supplements and foods sponsored by industry partnerships and through government grants. She is currently working with the Almond Board of California investigating the potential for almonds to improve cognition. She is a registered nutritionist and has written over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Her contribution to the area of cardiometabolic health and nutrition has been recognized by a South Australian Tall Poppy Award and invited presentations.
Senior Vice President & Senior Analyst, Food & Agribusiness Research & Advisory, Rabobank USA
Vernon Crowder is a Senior Vice President and Senior Analyst for Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) group. He manages the team, which analyzes and conducts market research on California agribusiness as well as the North American fresh fruit and produce sectors.
Before joining Rabobank in 2010, Crowder served as senior vice president and agricultural economist for Bank of America for 11 years, analyzing the agricultural industry, agribusinesses, commodity prices and food processors. Most recently, he served as senior client manager for Bank of America in Fresno for seven years.
A banker for 40 years, Crowder began his career at the former Security Pacific National Bank where he progressed to vice president and agribusiness specialist. Crowder earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and an MBA at the University of California, Riverside. He is a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program and attended the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington.
Rabobank’s FAR team provides information and analysis covering all of the major sectors throughout the food chain. The Americas-based FAR team is part of Rabobank’s global FAR group, which is comprised of approximately 90 analysts around the world.
Chief Executive Officer, HAIFA Australia
Trevor has been involved in the fertiliser industry for over 20 years, originally completing his Agricultural Degree with Melbourne Uni (Dookie) in the early 90s. He has moved on to be passionate about Agriculture in Australia. In the past 20 years Trevor has worked in every state of Australia in many capacities, from fertiliser, irrigation and GPS guidance to now heading up HAIFA Australia, the premium supplier of water soluble nutrients, in particular Potassium Nitrate to Australian farmers. It is with the support of the almond industry that HAIFA and its team have been the major sponsor of the Almond conference for the past six years.
General Manager, Emergency Preparedness & Response, Plant Health Australia
Dr Susanna Driessen joined Plant Health Australia in May 2012 as General Manager, Emergency Response and Preparedness. This is a new position in PHA, taking on the EPPRD responsibilities previously held by Rod Turner, who retains the role of General Manager, Risk Management.
Susanna spent several years working in the floriculture, grains, cotton and plant biosecurity areas of state government departments of primary industries. She has a background in science and plant pathology, completing studies in biotechnology and an industry funded PhD in plant pathology from Murdoch University.
Susanna has a broad knowledge and experience in policy development, legislation and market access as it relates to plant health, working most recently in Plant Biosecurity, NSW Department of Primary Industries, as the Strategy Leader Plant Biosecurity Operations. In this role she was responsible for the operation of the NSW Interstate Certification Assurance scheme, as well as maintaining and developing new domestic market opportunities for NSW plants and plant products through representation on the national Subcommittee on Domestic Quarantine and Market Access.
Market Development Manager, Almond Board of Australia
Joseph Ebbage is engaged on a contract basis to manage the Almond Marketing Program. Based in Melbourne, Joseph has been working with the ABA since 2003. He is the principal of “Consumer Insights”, a market research and consultancy agency specialising in the Fast Moving Consumer Industry and has developed innovative solutions for companies including Select Harvests, the Nuts for Life Program and Horticulture Australia Limited.
Head of School of Allied Health, La Trobe University
Catherine is a recognised leader in Dietetics and has international standing as a leader in Mediterranean diet research. She is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, the deputy chair of the Australian Dietetics Council, and is the founding head of the department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at La Trobe University. Her current role is Head of School of Allied Health at La Trobe University. Catherine’s specific research area of interest is Mediterranean diet studies focussing both on migration impact on diet and lifestyle and chronic disease risk and dietary clinical intervention trials using the traditional Cretan Mediterranean diet (and elements of) as intervention models in the prevention and management of metabolic syndrome, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more recently mental health. Catherine has authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications with 720 citations, has co-edited a Nutrition textbook, and has published 2 Mediterranean Diet Cookbooks (The Mediterranean Diet 2013, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook 2015).
Director, Sustainability & Environmental Affairs, Almond Board of California
Gabriele Ludwig has been working for the Almond Board of California for some 11 years. The Almond Board of California is a federal marketing order that focuses on research and generic marketing of almonds and is funded by a grower assessment. At the Almond Board, Gabriele gets to combine her passion for agriculture and the environment with research and policy. As Director for Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, she was instrumental in the development of the California Almond Sustainability Program, and continues to encourage a diverse range of research on almonds and environmental issues.
She is currently a participant of the California Roundtable for Ag and the Environment, Board chair for the non-profit Coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship, and serves on several government agencies’ advisory committees. Prior to joining the Almond Board, she worked for the consulting firm Schramm, Williams & Associates in Washington, DC. She received her PhD. in plant physiology from the University of California, Davis and her B.A. in Biology from Wellesley College.
Chief Executive Officer, Central Irrigation Trust & Chairman, National Irrigators Council
Mr Gavin McMahon is heavily involved in water issues within the SA Riverland District and across the Murray–Darling Basin. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Central Irrigation Trust and a Director of Central Irrigation Pty Ltd, where he is responsible for the delivery of irrigation water to thousands of families, domestic customers and industries. He is also a Director of the National Irrigators Council and currently serves as the Chairperson. Gavin was recently a member of a Water Act Review Panel which reviewed the Water Act 2007. Mr McMahon previously spent 23 years with BSES Ltd, a research and development company servicing primary producers and processors in the sugar industry where he held several positions within the company commencing as an agricultural advisor and completing his time with BSES as the Manager of Customer Service.
Gavin holds a BSc from Griffith University where he majored in Environmental Studies as well as a BBus from the University of Southern Queensland.
Project Manager & Chief Agronomist, Research & Development Department, Netafim
Itamar gained his Ph.D. studying at the Soil & Water Sciences Department, Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He published several papers on soil water distribution under water repellent conditions. For the last nine years, he has been project manager and chief agronomist at the R&D department of NETAFIM. Itamar’s main responsibilities include soil sensors implementation, testing and development and precision agriculture implementation. His work includes experimentations in advanced drip irrigation technology involving remote sensing and precision agriculture as well as advanced modelling for irrigation scheduling.
Irrigation and Agronomy Farm Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension
Blake Sanden is the Irrigation and Agronomy Farm Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, stationed in Kern County at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. He conducts county-based, applied research and extension programs focusing on irrigation system management, salinity/fertility management for all crops, and agronomic field crop production of alfalfa, dry beans and oil crops.
Blake has a BS in International Agricultural Development & Agronomy and MS in Irrigation and Drainage from UC Davis and 35 years of experience in production ag, international ag development and extension. Significant projects include: development of salt tolerance thresholds for pistachios in the San Joaquin Valley, soil moisture monitoring and irrigation efficiency assessment on 12,000 acres in Kern County, deficit irrigation in early citrus navels and almond water use/fertilizer management for optimal yield.
Chief Executive Officer, Almond Board of Australia
Ross was appointed to this position in 2011. He has previously been the Assistant General Manager of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, General Manager of the Dried Fruits Research and Development Council, and General Manager of the Australian Dried Fruits Board, a statutory body. Ross has 34 years’ experience managing R&D programs for many Murray Valley horticultural industries and driving uptake of knowledge and technologies by producers. He is a member of HIA’s Almond Strategic Investment Committee and HIA’s Nut Industry Trade Advisory Panel.
Senior Scientist, Plant & Food Research Australia
Dr Grant Thorp is a Senior Scientist with Plant & Food Research Australia, based in Melbourne. He completed his PhD studies at The University of Adelaide researching avocado tree architecture. He has worked with the apple, avocado, kiwifruit and persimmon industries in New Zealand and overseas examining the role of plant architecture, canopy management and rootstocks in determining tree productivity and fruit quality.
Grant currently leads programmes in Australia researching the development of “small tree” high density growing systems for almonds and macadamia.
Senior Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), University of Sydney
Dr. James Patrick Underwood is a senior research fellow at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at The University of Sydney. James is an expert in the area of perception systems for field robotics – the study of how outdoor robots working in complex, unstructured environments can make sense of their world using science and technology in multi-modal sensing, data fusion and mapping. James has applied his research to a number of industry applications including mining, defence and agriculture, with a focus on research and development of robotics and sensing technology for the horticulture industry.
Chief Executive Officer, Waterfind
Alister’s knowledge and experience in irrigation communities, along with his strong business skills enable him to strategically drive the Waterfind business, whilst maintaining a hands on role in the business’ day-to-day operations.
Growing up near Wentworth NSW on his family’s cropping and grazing property, experience with water trading and irrigation started early. Alister has an extensive career in agriculture, business development and account management. He holds a Bachelor of Economics in International Agribusiness.
Director of Pollination Operations, Wonderful Orchards USA
Gordon earned his Ph.D. in Entomology with emphasis in Apiculture at Michigan State University in 1982. Following his degree he worked for 12 years in International Apicultural Development in regions from Nepal to Fiji, with most of his time spent in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand helping improve beekeeping potential.
In 1988 he joined the faculty of the University of Maryland as the extension apiculturist. After moving to Arizona in 1996 he established and managed a research and development company dedicated to implementing innovative solutions to entomological and apicultural problems including the development of the honey bee nutritional supplement, MegaBee®.
In 2009 Gordon accepted a position as Director of Bee Biology with Paramount Farming Company California’s largest almond grower. His duties include overseeing honey bee health and nutrition, coordinating pollination efforts for the company’s almond orchards and investigating the solitary bee, Osmia lignaria, as possible pollinator of almonds.
In addition, Dr. Wardell is currently the chairman of Project Apis m, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving honey bee health and funding innovative research. He is a science advisor to the Almond Board of California and a lecturer at California Polytechnic University.
Program Manager & Dietitan, Nuts for Life
Lisa is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 20 years experience in nutrition communications, strategy development and implementation and event management, over 15 years experience in marketing and public relations and still has her finger on the pulse by working part-time in clinical practice.
Since 2005 Lisa has been the Program Manager and Dietitian to Nuts for Life – a health promotion program from the Australian Tree Nut Industry with Almond Board of Australia as one of its founding financial contributors.
Lisa is a columnist for Medical Observer and 6minutes GP publications and holds a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Biochemistry and Pharmacology as well as a Masters Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics both from the University of Sydney.
Principal, Zadow Apiaries & Former Chairperson, Australian Honey Bee Industry Council
Ian Zadow is a commercial beekeeper based at Tintinara in the Upper South East of South Australia and has been involved with almond pollination for 20 years in the SA Riverland region.
Ian is heavily involved in industry leadership within the Apiary Industry. He has been an executive member of the South Australian Apiarists’ Association for 14 years including 3 years as president. He has been an executive member of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council for 8 years and has just stepped out of 3 years as Chairman.