New advisory group to drive SA AgTech growth

Nine South Australian business, industry and academic leaders have been appointed to the new Minister’s AgTech Advisory Group to provide a co-ordinated and long-term approach to the development and uptake of technology in agriculture in South Australia.

The group was selected from almost 70 nominations and will be led by independent chair, Dr Leanna Read, South Australia’s former Chief Scientist who is a renowned biotechnology expert.

The membership of the advisory group is: Andrew Grant, Oli Madgett, Karen Ross, Dougal McOmish, Tom Rayner, Professor Andrew Lowe, Penny Schulz and SA Chief Entrepreneur Jim Whalley. 

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said members of the advisory group bring considerable experience and expertise across the AgTech and primary industries sector.

“Each member appointed to the AgTech Advisory Group is committed to making our agricultural industries more productive, sustainable and profitable through adoption of technologies and on-farm innovation,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Technology in the primary industries sector is changing at a rapid pace and this group will assist in positioning South Australia as a leader in this space.

“The role of this group is vital to encourage greater adoption of AgTech solutions on-farm and through the value chain – helping to build on South Australia’s advantages, showcase businesses and organisations developing or using new technology, and to increase productivity and quality in our primary industries.

“Some of the key areas the Advisory Group will look at include overcoming barriers that may be preventing producers from adopting new or emerging technologies, commercialisation and focusing on a long term strategy to grow AgTech in South Australia.”

Minister Whetstone said the need to have greater collaboration on AgTech in South Australia was a key driver behind forming the advisory group. 

“AgTech has been identified as a key growth area to help farmers boost agriculture to a $100 billion industry in Australia by 2030 and South Australia needs a co-ordinated approach to ensure we can contribute significantly to this target,” said Minister Whetstone.

“This Government is focused on supporting our primary industries to increase production and strengthen competitiveness on a global stage.

“I look forward to working with the advisory group to put positive policy in place to grow AgTech in South Australia.”


Members of the Minister’s AgTech Advisory Group are:

Professor Leanna Read, Independent Chair

Originally an Agricultural Science graduate, Leanna is currently chair and CEO of the CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacturing and has extensive expertise in biotechnology. She is the former Chief Scientist of South Australia and has received a number of awards in the areas of science, technology and innovation.

Jim Whalley

Jim is South Australia’s Chief Entrepreneur. He currently also is Chair and co-founder of innovative defence industry company Nova Systems and a former air force fighter pilot.

Dougal McOmish

Dougal has extensive experience in application and trials of technologies on-farm and in venture capital financing, having been the Chief Operating Officer for Sundrop Farms at Port Augusta and worked in the financial advisory sector with the Macquarie Group in Australia and overseas. Dougal is currently a board member of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Karen Ross

Karen has extensive experience in the agriculture sector having worked across Australia and overseas in the grains, electricity and finance sectors. Currently Karen is the General Manager of Innovation, Digital and Brand at Elders. Karen has created an app designed to consolidate AgTech data input into one location for farmers to make real time decisions to increase productivity and has led teams who run broadacre and livestock trials and extension programs.

Oli Madgett

Oli has a family vineyard in the McLaren Vale wine region and is the co-founder of AgTech start-up Platfarm. Additionally, Oli runs Adelaide AgTech meet-ups, is a member of the AgriFutures Ignite Panel and has extensive history in the digital and IT space in South Australia and overseas. Oli is also an AgTech mentor and has used his vineyard for tech trials, including with the University of Adelaide.

Andrew Grant

Andrew has co-founded four AgTech start-ups across different agricultural sectors in South Australia, which are all commercialising technologies with leading South Australian agricultural companies. Andrew has over 20 years of experience in the commercialisation of technologies, including technology validation with industry, product development, working with research institutes, first product sales, strategic partnerships and fundraising, from the pre-seed to venture capital stage.

Tom Rayner

Tom currently holds a senior position at satellite communications start up Myriota, which has significant applications in the AgTech sector. He has experience working with a range of applications including weather stations, tank monitors, ag-software platforms and asset and livestock trackers. Previously Tom has worked with Elders and as a fifth-generation farmer on his family’s wheat and merino sheep farm in South Australia’s Mid-North.

Professor Andrew Lowe

Andrew is the inaugural Director of Agrifood and Wine at the University of Adelaide working with partners in the agrifood and wine sectors and positioning the university and state as a world-class destination for research and education, including AgTech. Formerly Andrew was the Science Director of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre.

Penny Schulz

Penny is a beef and sheep farmer in the South East adopting the latest on-farm technology and also vice-president of South Australian peak body Livestock SA. She has also worked in the livestock and dairy extension space for more than a decade and has undertaken research into adoption of technology by sheep farmers and the role of this technology in the future of farm extension.

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