Always looking for the next big thing

Always looking for the next big thing


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Plant breeder and farmer Andrew Barr, Mallala, was recently awarded for his services to primary production. He says his childhood on the family farm inspired much of his career, particularly watching his father Bob’s love of innovation.

Plant breeder and farmer Andrew Barr, Mallala, was recently awarded for his services to primary production. He says his childhood on the family farm inspired much of his career, particularly watching his father Bob’s love of innovation.

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MALLALA farmer Andrew Barr has done his bit to feed the world, having spent almost 30 years as a plant breeder, developing 24 oats, barley and wheat varieties, and 11 years as a farmer.

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MALLALA farmer Andrew Barr has done his bit to feed the world, having spent almost 30 years as a plant breeder, developing 24 oats, barley and wheat varieties, and 11 years as a farmer.

He was awarded the Services to Primary Production Award at the Agricultural Bureau's Spirit of Excellence in Agriculture awards in Adelaide earlier this month.

Mr Barr said the award was unexpected but was pleased to have been honoured.

"A lot of people should take the credit, not just me," he said.

In his four decades in the industry, Mr Barr has been responsible for leading research which could help feed the population, not just in SA but globally.

He is a board member of the Australian Grain Growers Co-op and has sat on the southern panel of the GRDC.

He has just finished a six-year term on the board of CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre based in Mexico and working in 70 countries.

His final year on the board was in the role of chairperson.

Mr Barr said his childhood on the family farm had inspired much of his career, particularly watching his father Bob's love of innovation.

He recalled that during this time, farmers were faced with some big challenges.

"The rotations at the time had disease issues, soil stability issues, fertility issues," Mr Barr said.

"(My father) got involved with the ag bureau and tried to learn new techniques. He was trying to see how he could increase productivity.

"He always believed there was a better ways to do things, always looking for the next step."

This attitude rubbed off on Mr Barr who gained his agricultural Science degree at the University of Adelaide before starting his first job at the then Department of Agriculture.

He was employed to start an oat breeding program from scratch, working under Terry Head and Rex Krause, breeder of the Halberd wheat variety, the major wheat in use at the time.

"I really lucked out with them as managers," Mr Barr said.

"In the environment we had, I had every opportunity to succeed.

"I was there 17 years and absolutely loved it."

* Full report in Stock Journal, October 30, 2014 issue.

The story Always looking for the next big thing first appeared on Farm Online.

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