Dr Felicity Harris - research agronomist

Dr Felicity Harris - research agronomist

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) research agronomist Dr Felicity Harris has won the 2017 Young Agronomist Award presented at the Australian Society of Agronomy Conference in Ballarat.

DPI Group Director Plant Systems Dr Alison Bowman said Dr Harris, based at Wagga Wagga, is the lead researcher for cereal agronomy and physiology projects under the NSW DPI and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Bilateral investment.

“Dr Harris’ outstanding contributions make her a very worthy recipient of the Young Agronomist Award,” Dr Bowman said.

“Dr Harris possesses diverse skills in crop physiology, general agronomy, communication with farmers and advisers, and is developing skills in complex statistical analysis, making a significant impact to productivity of Australian agriculture.

“Dr Harris’s current research focus is about the interaction of growth and development of dryland cereals – using management to adjust the timing of crop development to maximise yield in a variable climate.

“Her most original contribution to research has been to identify a genetic source of vigorous growth characteristics in wheat, associated with 18% faster growth.

“This finding will assist wheat breeders to produce varieties with a degree of vigour appropriate for various environments and farming systems.”

Dr Bowman said Dr Harris’’s enthusiasm, knowledge and skills have brought a new focus to the cereal agronomy projects, with advisers and researchers getting the information they need on phase development and its impact on grain yield.

“Her expertise and strong interest in frost and heat impact on phase development of cereals is the underlying science supporting the new cereal program in the Bilateral Agreement with the GRDC,” Dr Bowman said.

“Dr Harris has been very proactive through collaboration with other entities including CSIRO, Charles Sturt and Adelaide Universities. She has co-supervised two honours students at CSU and presented guest lectures and field walks for crop agronomy students.

Dr Chris Korte, President of Agronomy Australia, said Dr Harris received her award in recognition of demonstrated scientific leadership in cereal physiology within NSW DPI and partner scientific organisations, plus her excellent communication skills and active engagement with grain growers and their advisers.

“Dr Harris has effectively communicated key research results that are valued and useful to growers and advisers at a number of GRDC crop updates and she has published two papers in refereed journals and 11 papers for conferences and updates,” he said.

Source: NSW DPI