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.

ABOUT MSF

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.
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. 

MSF FARMER DIRECTORS

Nicole Byrnes

Nicole Byrnes

MSF Chair & 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 much 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 also has considerable experience in the Horticulture industry and holds an Advanced Diploma of Rural Business Management.

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. They manage 13,000ha of land and their cropping operation consists of 10,000ha of Wheat, Barley, Oats, Vetch, Lupins, Lentils, Peas, Chickpeas and Canola.

Having the drive to move forward and always looking to achieve operations effectively and efficiently, the passion to “Farm for the Future” is the motto for both Bulla Burra and Andrew.

Andrew is an active member of –
Director of Mallee Sustainable Farming
GRDC’s Regional Cropping Network Solutions low rainfall member
Riverland/Northern Mallee Spray Drift Working Group
Loxton District Land care Director
Loxton Pistol Club Secretary

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.
Therese McBeath

Therese McBeath

Specialist Director

Research Team Leader Agriculture and Food, CSIRO

Therese joined the MSF Board in early 2021 as a Specialist Director. Her current role as a research Team Leader in the Systems program at the Adelaide CSIRO Agriculture and Food Waite Institute means Therese brings a wealth of knowledge to the team. Therese has experience and qualifications in a range of research roles and agronomy.

Therese specialises in soil science and crop nutrition and is excited by the diverse challenges and opportunities that farming the Mallee holds. She particularly enjoys translating large and complicated datasets into practical solutions that can be implemented at farm-level for increased productivity in risky environments.

In her spare time, Therese loves to get out and about with her kids, exploring the Black Hill & Morialta Conservation near where she lives. She also loves getting back to the beaches on the West Coast.

Director since 2021.
Kenton Porker
MSF - Kenton Porker

Kenton Porker

Specialist Director

Kenton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to MSF, recently awarded the GRDC Southern Region 2019 Emerging Leader Award and the Australian Society of Agronomy 2019 Young Agronomist Award.

Kenton grew up in the Mallee and started his career at SARDI in 2010 as a durum and barley agronomist before returning to the University of Adelaide to embark on a PhD with GRDC investment in 2014. Kenton returned to SARDI in 2017 to lead the Waite cereal agronomy group.
Kenton has a strong reputation in the grains industry and is currently a lead scientist and collaborator on a number of important national agronomy initiatives across southern Australia through his proactive work with colleagues at CSIRO, NSW Department of Primary Industries, La Trobe University and the University of Adelaide.

Director since 2019.
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MSF Team

Prue Lynch

Prue Lynch

MSF Executive officer

Prue and her husband Chris along with Chris’s parents, run a 23,000 acre farm that involves cropping, a self-replacing merino enterprise and hay production and Prue is also the Manager of the Ouyen Livestock Exchange.

Prue loves living in the Mallee because of the amazing bond and generosity of its’ people, as well as finding the agricultural industry very exciting because of its’ incredible growth, advancement and opportunities. Prue is an advocate for women playing a much greater role in the industry.
Prue is passionate about strategic planning, continuous improvement and learning, with her long-term goals to continue to expand and develop her skills in business and the agriculture industry.

Director since 2021.
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.

Tanja Morgan

Tanja Morgan

Communication & Engagement Manager

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 (before COVID-19), 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

EXTENSION OFFICER

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.

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.

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.

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