UNIVERSITY of Adelaide researcher and lecturer Tony Rathjen has been instrumental in establishing a strong durum industry in South Australia and released more than 20 wheat varieties in his career.
And the numerous students he has lectured over the years never fail to talk about him in glowing terms.
He led the way for sustainable farming in the Mallee with the development of high-yielding, disease-resistant bread wheats. He was named the 2009 recipient of the BCG Harm van Rees Award for significant contribution to agriculture in the Mallee.
Victoria's Birchip Cropping Group chief executive Alexandra Gartmann said Tony's development of the Frame and Yitpi varieties had an enormous impact on the industry and the Mallee, paving the way for successful new farming systems and technology adoption over the past decade.
BCG chairman Ian McClelland said Tony 's contribution was enormous.
"Tony has not isolated himself in an ivory tower," he said. "He has close links with the farming community, seeking feedback from the direct users of his innovations. He has always been ready to engage in robust debate for the benefit of agriculture.
"Not only has Dr Rathjen been a high-impact breeder and communicator; he has been influential in educating some of the industry's best-known scientists and leaders such as David Moody, whose last commercial release variety Hindmarsh is proving extremely successful."
Tony, along with fellow plant breeders Gil Hollamby, Andy Barr and David Sparrow, also received the Premier's Science Award for excellence in research in 2005.
"The breeding team has been of very great importance especilly those who have contributed for decades, Chris Stone, Jim Lewis, Jim Chigwidden, Ranjit Das and Alison Millar - we have enjoyed working together," he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.