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Award winners aren’t slowing down any time soon


As the APAL Forum and Awards for Excellence approach in June, we caught up with some of last year’s winners to see what they’ve been working on since winning the award. We spoke with David Williams, winner of last year’s Lifetime Achievement award, and Nathan Barolli, winner of last year’s Rising Star award.

David Williams

past apal award winners

David has constantly demonstrated excellence in the apple and pear industry and is well known in the research, development and extension space where he has over 40 years’ experience to orchard pest management. He currently leads the second phase of the PIPS Integrated Pest and Disease Management project where the codling moth parasitoid, Mastrus ridens, is being released and evaluated in Qld, NSW, Vic, SA, and Tas.

What did receiving last year’s Lifetime Achievement award mean to you?

David: It was mind-blowing, for a start. It was such a boost to self-esteem. Fantastic to get it. It’s great to be recognised by people in an industry like this.

What have you been up to in the year since?

David: We’re well on the way to revising the National IPDM Manual to make the updated version available in digital format with links to various other websites. We have also established case studies for implementation in all apple and pear growing states.

We’re currently progressing with biological control of Codling Moth, which so far has seen good results. The program involves release and establishment of the Mastrus wasp, a parasitoid (parasite that kills its host) that targets Codling moth caterpillars in their final phase of life before becoming pupae. This work has also involved testing current pesticides for their impact on the wasp. We need to do this so that growers know what chemicals to avoid if they want to take advantage of the biological control.

We now have a range of techniques to target all stages of the Codling Moth lifecycle, and we’re also contributing to the sterile Queensland Fruit Fly program.

Has the award put the spotlight on your activity?

David: I think so. When you get the award they highlight what you have done in the context of the industry. It helps your peers understand what you do, and it helps the industry understand the importance of long-term strategic research activities.

I wasn’t expecting the award. In the past the finalists have had a video done and, although I had been told I had been nominated, nobody had taken a video so I was just chilling out eating breakfast at my table when they announced me as the winner. I didn’t think I was in the same league as other people who won in the past. But it’s fantastic for anyone who’s put a lot of time into the industry in some form or another.

That’s the point: helping the industry. Making the industry better because of you.

I also want to make the point that the industry has been very supportive over the years for the sort of work I do. I have learned an enormous amount from the growers who have given generously of their time, knowledge and insights as well as being prepared to take a (considered) risk to let me “play” in their orchards.

Nathan Barolli

past apal award winners

(from left) Chris Fairless, Michele Allan, Nathan Barolli receiving his award, Nathan’s wife Nadije, and Phil Turnbull.

Nathan is a passionate third-generation orchardist working alongside his brother and parents. Their business has recently expanded to include pears, apples and plums; five orchards and two cool storage facilities in the Goulburn Valley; and another orchard and cool store in Batlow. In total, the orchards account for 350 acres and cool-stores of 12,000 bins. The award recognised Nathan as an up and coming industry leader who is achieving great things for our industry.

What did receiving last year’s Rising Star award mean to you?

Nathan: Good to feel recognised in the industry for hard work.

Me and my brother are pretty young, and we like to think we innovate. We like to tinker with and trial new planting styles. Whether it works or not, that’s a different story.

What have you been up to in the year since?

Nathan: We’ve done trial work with new varieties. In the Fruitgrower magazine that’s just come out you can read about the global partnership around Red Moon, which we’re part of.

We’re experimenting with commercial planting, trying to get something new and different to get some value-add.

Has the award put a spotlight on your work?

Nathan: It’s given me the confidence to back my own judgement.

What would you say to other young growers who are thinking about applying?

Nathan: Yeah, do it 100%.

A lot of kids want to go to the city and are moving out of places like Shepparton, so we need to provide pathways for young growers. We need to let them know that orchards are so much more than ‘watering plants’, which is what young people think it is. You’ve got chemistry, biology, and way more.

So that’s where awards like this come in. A little bit of confidence goes a long way.


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