SA vegetable grower Daniel Hoffman has been recognised for his industry advocacy by being named the 2019 Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year.
The award, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, was announced at the AusVeg National Awards for Excellence held at the Hort Connections Gala Dinner in Melbourne last night.
In a competitive crop of 10 nominees from across Australia, the 35-year-old was recognised as the best in his field based on his advocacy work for local growers seeking access to water on the Northern Adelaide Plains, strong R&D involvement and his own innovative on-farm practices.
Growing tomatoes, capsicums, eggplant, cucumber and bunch lines as part of the family farming enterprise, Hoff Family Trust, Daniel's expertise areas include plant nutrition and fertiliser, as well as pest and plant health management.
Daniel was thrilled to win the accolade.
"It feels really nice to be recognised for years of work," he said.
"Young growers will be our future and if we can use things like the Young Grower of the Year Award to encourage us all to strive for better practices and share knowledge then I think that's great.
"If we, as the next generation of farmers, are working in an environment where we feel appreciated then the industry is going to benefit from proud growers. This is a very noble and hard profession and we should be damn proud of the industry."
Corteva Agriscience Horticulture & Insecticides marketing manager Nick Koch said Daniel was a great example of the impact younger farmers could have on the industry.
"At just 35, Daniel has proved himself to be a well-respected leader within the grower community and beyond, becoming a well-known advocate for the Northern Adelaide Plains water security issue on behalf of the broader farming sector," Mr Koch said.
"In addition to his strong advocacy work, Daniel has supported a number of researchers as part of the AusVeg SA Integrated Pest Management program and helped to host a number of field walks on his farm.
"He's successfully managed to breed and maintain his own healthy population of the beneficial bug nesidiocoris tenuis as part of his IPM and biodynamic method of farming to produce high quality crops, which he supplies to key wholesalers such as Premier Fruits Group."
Fellow SA vegetable grower Mark Pye took home the Innovation Partner award.
Mr Pye, owner of one of the country's leading growing operations Zerella Fresh, had been named SA Grower of the Yearfor being an innovative and successful business owner and his tireless efforts as an industry leader.
Zerella Fresh is one of the biggest growing operations in the country and placed SA's Mallee on the map as one of the biggest potato production areas of Australia.
Mr Pye is a keen adopter of transformational technologies and often trials new varieties of carrots, onions and potatoes, including the low-carbohydrate potato variety Spud Lite, which has amassed a significant customer base across Australia for its taste profile and cooking attributes. This variety also grows for a shorter period of time and has favourable agronomic traits.
He has also acted as a dedicated industry advocate and worked with researchers to measure the labour shortage in the state.
Zerella Fresh was also the first business to be accredited by the industry-led Fair Farms initiative to demonstrate its compliance to ethical workplace practices.
More than 1400 attended the Hort Connections 2019 National Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The Syngenta Grower of the Year went to Central Vic apple producer Jason Shields of Plunkett Orchards, recognised for his achievements on a national level.
"The Grower of the Year Award is the highest accolade in Australian horticulture and reflects Jason's dedication to his business and his tireless efforts on behalf of the apple industry, both in Vic and nationally," AusVeg CEO James Whiteside said.
"Jason has transformed his business into one of the most innovative and successful growing operations in Australia. He excels in tree and orchard management as well as profitability and productivity management, and is clearly able to share these complex considerations with others."
Apple and Pear Australia Limited CEO Phil Turnbull added that Jason has led the way in the industry after he researched and implemented ways to improve harvesting management and integrated pest management practices in the orchard.
"It is fitting that Jason is the first apple grower to receive the Syngenta Grower of the Year Award and we are excited to see what else is in store for Jason and his business," he said.
Other awards went to:
- Ian Muir, Vic - AUSVEG Lifetime Achievement Award
- Foodbank Australia - E. E. Muir & Sons Community Stewardship Award
- Dr Cherie Gambley, Qld - Bayer Researcher of the Year
- Carmel Ingram, Vic - Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture Award
- Michael Evans, Vic - Butler Market Gardens Environmental Award
- Darren and Mark Schreurs, Vic - Visy Industry Impact Award
- Harvest Moon, Tas - Exporter of the Year