Media release

Recognising cutting-edge agricultural innovation

6 March 2018

  • 11 young agricultural innovators, researchers and scientists have been awarded up to $264,000 in total grants through the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • The joint industry / government funding aims to turn ideas for improving agricultural productivity into reality
  • Rhys Pirie received the additional Minister's award for his project to produce low cost, high efficiency fertilisers

Cutting edge ideas to produce organic waste fertilisers, reduce calf mortality rates and tackle common grapevine diseases were among the 11 innovative projects celebrated at this year's Australian Government Science and Innovation Awards.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, said the award recipients received grants of up to $22,000 each to develop their ideas to boost productivity and sustainability.

"Their ideas are helping farmers to improve the way they run their businesses and ultimately improve their bottom lines," Minister Littleproud said.

PhD student, Rhys Pirie, who grew up on a cattle farm near Harden, NSW, has taken out the Minister's Award and an additional $22,000 grant for his project to turn organic waste into low cost fertilisers.

"By transforming organic wastes like livestock manure, sugarcane mill mud and cotton gin trash into efficient fertilisers, Rhys' research could help producers to cut back on waste and pollution," Minister Littleproud said.

"What farmer wouldn't want to get more bang for their buck when it comes to fertiliser, reducing overall farm costs?"

Wine lover, Dr Monica Kehoe, received an award for her work on grapevine leafroll viruses—which affect fruit quality and yield—which could help farmers identify the virus in as little as 30 minutes.

Jarud Muller from Brisbane received an award for his work into the prevention of calf mortality from dehydration, which can really hurt a producer's hip pocket.

The awards encourage innovation and provide funding to bring great ideas to life and help to advance the careers of our future agriculture leaders through national recognition of their good work.

The Science Awards were presented at a gala dinner as part of Australia's pre-eminent agricultural and economic forecasting event—ABARES Outlook 2018.

For more information on the winners and their projects, visit​

AgriFutures Australia AwardCassandra Douglas-Hill
Dairy Australia AwardDr Christina Marth
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation AwardDr Dale McClure
Australian Wool Innovation AwardDr Jamie Barwick
CSIRO Health and Biosecurity AwardDr Kirsty Short
Wine Australia AwardDr Monica Kehoe
Grains Research and Development Corporation AwardDr Sofie De Meyer
Meat & Livestock Australia AwardJarud Muller
Australian Meat Processor Corporation AwardMs Maddison Corlett
Cotton Research and Development Corporation AwardRhys Pirie
Australian Pork Limited AwardTanya Nowland

​​Fast Facts:

  • There were 11 Science and Innovation Award category award recipients in 2018—each supported by a research and development corporation or industry organisation.
  • The awards commenced in 2001 and have since supported 236 young innovators.
  • The Australian Government invests around $1.1 billion a year in rural R&D through the rural R&D corporations, Cooperative Research Centres, the CSIRO, universities, R&D Tax Incentive and other programs.​