About us

Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) brings farmers and researchers together to build more efficient, profitable and sustainable farming businesses in the low-rainfall Mallee region across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

The MSF Advantage

Our Vision

Dynamic, profitable and sustainable farming.

Our Mission

Provide excellence in research, development and extension initiatives for the dryland Mallee of South Eastern Australia.

Principal Purpose

To protect and enhance the natural environment by the encouragement of sustainable dryland farming practices.


Our farmers access local, evidence-based knowledge and practical advice on no-till and reduced tillage systems, improved soil nutrition, crop rotation, agronomy, soil water efficiency and soil microbiology.
MSF is changing the face of farming in some of Australia’s most challenging cropping and livestock grazing country by working with its members and industry experts to deliver the best in specialist agricultural research and development while also boosting farmers’ productivity and harvest yields.

Our Service Area

Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) is the leading farmer-driven research and advisory organisation for dryland farmers across the low-rainfall Mallee in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

In partnership with industry collaborators including the CSIRO and GRDC, MSF leads the way in delivering ground-breaking research to Mallee farmers. It’s tested on local farms and demonstrates the benefits of the latest proven sustainable farming techniques.

Our Future

With over 2000 dryland farming businesses across the Mallee, MSF continues to assist cropping and livestock farmers to meet their research and knowledge needs.

As our membership grows, more farmers are receiving new, updated and timely information on the latest scientific research and best land management practices to improve their farm business’ efficiency, sustainability and profitability.

Our History

Formed in 1997 to bring conservation farming practices to the Mallee, MSF works with farmers to increase the adoption of sustainable farming technology by identifying barriers and finding scientifically proven solutions.
Over more than two decades, MSF has delivered knowledge and resources to farmers through its collaborative research projects, trial site field days, FarmTalk fact sheets and Mallee Research Update events. Our projects have not only increased farm profitability, they are also delivering environmental and social gains for rural communities across the four million hectares of Mallee covered by MSF.

Meet the Board

MSF is governed by a Board of up to 11 farmer and specialist Directors. The Board plays an important part in setting the strategic direction of Mallee Sustainable Farming with a vision to promote dynamic, profitable and sustainable farming systems across the low rainfall Mallee region. 


Steve Burt

Steve Burt

MSF Chair

Steve Burt is a successful entrepreneur and business leader in agribusiness. As Managing Director of Turfbreed Pty Ltd, Steve has been responsible for driving the company's growth and success. With his experience in managing multiple businesses including grain trading company PentAG Nidera Pty Ltd, and his position as a Non-executive Director of AMPS Agribusiness, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his role.

Director since April 2023
Nicole Byrnes

Nicole Byrnes

NSW Farmer DirectoR

Nicole Byrnes farms with her husband in the Pooncarie district in Western NSW on wheat and sheep stations, over two properties totalling 12,000 acres situated on the Darling River and Great Anabranch.

Nicole completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) at Melbourne University and a PhD from Charles Sturt University and has recently served a term on Western Local Land Services board. She currently works part time at SuniTAFE as the program leader for horticulture innovation and technology. Nicole has been involved with MSF for many years, including as the former extension coordinator and as a field day host. Nicole is also involved in many community initiatives including the Pooncarie Field Days, and the Pooncarie Fire and Ambulance teams.

Director since 2021
Gavin Howley

Gavin Howley

MSF Vice Chair & NSW Farmer Director

Gavin farms with his wife, Rhiannon and his mother and father. “Woodmount” is approx 6k hectares about half being floodplain forests on the Wakool – Murray junction at Kyalite. The farm has been in his family for over 100yrs and is a grain and sheep farm. Gavin completed a bachelor of agriculture at Adelaide university, Roseworthy campus and has done a farm exchange to the province of Saskatchewan in Canada.

Gavin has been involved with MSF for many years including a previous stint on the board and as a trial/field day host. Gavin likes to be involved in community events and has been the captain of his local fire brigade for a number of years.

Director since 2019.
Chris Hunt

Chris Hunt

MSF Treasurer & VIC Farmer Director

Chris is based in the Millewa farming 5,000 ha, growing cereal grain and hay, grain legumes and running sheep.

Chris worked off farm for many years, in different jobs as a diesel mechanic in heavy earth moving, before he returned to the family farming business in 2011. Chris is currently farming with his brother Anthony and father Colin. He is married with two young boys.

Director since 2018.
Andrew Biele

Andrew Biele

SA Farmer Director

Andrew started his farming career on the 2,000ha mixed family farm at New Residence, west of Loxton SA. Encouraged to get a trade Andrew qualified as a mechanic and gained valuable machinery knowledge, always assisting in harvest, sowing and shearing during these busy times. Andrew has also worked within SARDI managing field operations out of Loxton which involved all forms of research, including grain variety trials and frost research.

Andrew’s current position is Farm Manager of Bulla Burra Operations, a collaborative farming business, based at Loxton in the SA Murray Mallee.

Director since 2014
Mick Pole

Michael (Mick) Pole

VIC Farmer Director

Michael Pole farms at Walpeup in North West Victoria and is a partner in a collaborative broad acre cropping farm. Michael is married to Kate and they have two primary school aged boys, Will and Charlie.

Michael completed year 12 and worked on the family farm with his father Robert until seven years ago when he commenced the collaborative farming business with his neighbour and friend Jim Wakefield.
Since 2016 Michael has been on the GRDC NVT Advisory Board. He has hosted many trials over a long period of time, and continues to support and supply land for research or monitoring sites for various organisations.
Michael has been involved in his local community for many years and is a committee member of the Walpeup and District Development Committee and the Ouyen United Football and Netball Club.
I am really looking forward to working with a positive, proactive committee that can continue to lead and adapt farming into some very exciting and challenging times ahead. I look forward to the challenge to help continue to engage farmers into relevant research in a rapid changing environment.

Chad Nickolls

Chad Nickolls

SA FARMER Director

Chad is a grain and hay producer from Pinnaroo, farming with his father and brother and families. He studied a Bachelor of Ag Science at Adelaide Uni and did a short stint as a graduate agro with Landmark before returning home to the family farm.
Chad finds farming in the Mallee challenging and rewarding and is also involved with the local and wider ag community where he can meet like minded people who also share a passion for agriculture.
Chad’s long term goals are to be an efficient and productive producer while maintaining a sustainable system which can hopefully offer the next generation the same opportunities he has been given.

Director since 2021
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MSF Team

Jay Cummins

Jay Cummins

Program Manager

Jay is MSF’s Program Manager, overseeing the management and delivery of the wide range of projects across the Mallee. Jay is no stranger to the Mallee, commencing his career as an agronomist in the Southern Mallee at Lameroo that provided the foundation to later undertake agricultural extension and adoption research in developing countries globally.
Jay is married to MaryAnne, who together have two adult children and two energetic grandsons! According to Jay it’s a real privilege to be working with Mallee Sustainable Farming and in particular providing support to Mallee farmers in their quest to maximise profitable and sustainable farming systems.

Nick Paltridge

Nick Paltridge


Nick joined the MSF team in 2022. He has more than 25 years’ experience in agricultural research and extension, as well as in practical livestock production in south-east SA. In recent years he has held positions with the SA Government’s Red Meat and Wool Growth Program, and ran a project investigating opportunities for Mallee farmers to participate in carbon markets.

Nick is looking forward to working with MSF to deliver projects in livestock and forage production, and is also on hand to answer questions MSF members may have about carbon accounting, sequestration and emissions abatement.

Nick is based in the Adelaide Hills and is married to Wendy and has three young children.

Sonia Allen

Sonia Allen


Sonia joined the MSF team in 2018 as Project and Event Support Officer.
Sonia and her family relocated to the SA Mallee in 2014 and they now call Tailem Bend home. Sonia is a Project and Event Support Officer with a strong community focus. She is highly involved in local groups and committees and she loves nothing more than getting out and meeting new people.

When she's not working or volunteering, Sonia loves being outdoors in the sunshine and enjoying time with family and friends.

Tanja Morgan

Tanja Morgan

PROJECT Manager & Communications

Tanja is from Jabuk and is a wife to @AdamMorgan77 (Twitter), a mother to three daughters, and partner of Morgan Partners Farms. As Tanja says, “multitasking at its finest or worst – depends on the day!”
We asked Tanja what she loves about living in the Mallee and this is what she said:
“I love the peace and quiet, roaming the farm with my Labradors by my side. Working for MSF and travelling through the tri-state area, interacting with Mallee farmers from SA, VIC & NSW.
Low rainfall farmers demonstrate the meaning of resilience and making the most of what the land has to offer. Can’t go past the spectacular Mallee sunsets.”

Kylie Matthewson

Kylie Matthewson


Kylie Matthewson joined the MSF team as Extension Officer in March 2022.
Kylie grew up on a farm at Cooke Plains SA, and completed a Bachelor of Agriculture at Roseworthy. She and husband Sean live in Murray Bridge and have three young sons.
Kylie is an active community member, involved in volunteering at the Tailem Bend Netball and Football Club. Kylie is also a ‘people person’ and has a passion for helping farmers and farming communities to thrive.

Paige Cross

Paige Cross


Paige is the owner of Cross Country Management, a project management and consultancy business servicing the Australian agricultural industries.

Paige is based in Adelaide, South Australia returning to her home state after a 20 year career in the finance, government and healthcare sectors across the Eastern states of Australia.

Having grown up in regional South Australia on a sheep and grain farm, Paige has worked with many businesses throughout regional Victoria and South Australia, focusing on ensuring strong engagement and relationships with other business stakeholders and understanding each of the stakeholders role moving forward. Paige immensely enjoys working on projects that add value to regional communities and the agriculture sector.

Paige also has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agronomy), a Cert IV in Frontline Management and a Cert IV in Training and Facilitation.

Kimberley Jacobs

Kimberley Jacobs

Business Administration and Finance Manager

Kimberley Jacobs joined the MSF team as Business Support Officer in September 2022. Kimberley and her husband are parents to four daughters and have a dryland cropping property at Coonalyn.

Kimberley is an active member in her community, being a life member for the Border Downs Tintinara Football Club and more recently actively volunteering for the Jervois Netball Club.

Kimberley is passionate about community and providing support for those in the Mallee region.

Jenny Bennett

Jenny Bennett

Board Support

Jenny Bennett was born in Mildura and was raised on a citrus and vine property. She married a Merbein “blockie” and having lived on the land all her life she is very interested in farming and agriculture. She loves living in a rural area, with fresh air, plenty of space as well as socialising with friends of many years standing.
Jenny held secretarial roles at the National Bank, the Irymple Packing Pty Ltd and SuniTAFE in Mildura (32 years). She also gained a part time teacher certificate and taught Pitman’s shorthand and business topics.

She started taking minutes for MSF at its first Board meeting in 2017 and now works as Board Support Officer. She enjoys working for a group that strives to invest so that its farming systems, in the dryland Mallee, can be as productive and resilient as possible.
Over the years Jenny has been heavily involved with local community groups. She is a Justice of the Peace and currently Deputy Chair and Media Officer for the Sunraysia group of of Justices. She is on the Board of the Christie Centre in Mildura, a Life Member of Merbein Historical Society and is active with exercise groups, and the Merbein Book Club.

She received a Centenary medal in 2001 and was awarded a Public Service Medal for her contribution to the community and education.

Michael Moodie
MSF - Michael Moodie

Michael Moodie

Research Contractor,
Frontier Farming Systems

Frontier Farming Systems comprises of a small team of experts led by Michael Moodie, a well-known professional who has 15 years’ experience of delivering research, development and extension to the Mallee and wider low rainfall farming region of Southern Australia.
Collectively, the Frontier Farming System’s team has more than 50 years combined experience in implementing activities such as small plot research trials, paddock-scale trials and demonstrations, resource monitoring programs, field days, workshops, seminars and the development of extension and communication products.
We value Michael and the Frontier Farming System’s team’s services and passion for dryland farming systems.

Louise Brok
MSF - Michael Moodie

Louise Brok

Extension Agronomist

Louise joined the MSF team as an extension agronomist in 2023 to assist in the translation of our field R&D projects into our extension program. Originally from New Zealand, she has degrees in Agricultural Science from Massey University, along with experience in field trials and farmer engagement projects around practice change. Louise is based in Merrinee with her partner on a cropping farm.

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