Global Speakers


Tim Burrow


Agribusiness Australia

Tim Burrow holds an Associate Diploma in Farm Management (University of Adelaide – Roseworthy) and a Graduate Diploma in Agriculture (University of Western Sydney – Hawkesbury). Tim’s skills and experience include some 30 years of experience across the Agribusiness sector of Australia & NZ, including a number of senior management positions within The Emerald Group of Companies, Chemtura & Monsanto. His career is notable for his significant involvement in the establishment of a number of now everyday cultural practices including returnable Ag Chemical containers, minimum tillage practise and on farm seed processing. Tim is passionate about Agriculture and Australian Agriculture in particular and the need to feed the world by being involved with farmers to facilitate growing more food and fibre more effectively, with integrity.

Tim will be chairing this conference.


Alan Shea

GM Operations

Murrumbidgee Irrigation


Ben Stockwin


Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia

Ben Stockwin is an experienced educator who prior to working with PIEFA was a teacher and Principal in a variety of settings in both Tasmania and Queensland. Ben’s focus is to ensure that primary industries education resources meet the needs of teachers and lead to an increased understanding of the origins of our food and fibre and how they are produced. Ben is also a director on the boards of the Australian Beef Industry Foundation and Surfing Tasmania.


Brooke Sauer

Digital Agriculture Manager

McGregor Gourlay Agricultural Services

Brooke Sauer is the Digital Agriculture Manager for McGregor Gourlay, leading a small team of agronomists and technical specialists who provide support, guidance and expertise to farmers, consultants and industry on the use of spatial data and technology to improve the triple bottom line. Brooke has over 15 years’ experience in developing agricultural farming systems from zero til to controlled traffic, precision agriculture and now more broadly in digital agriculture. As an investor, collaborator, commercial partner, applied technology developer, advisor, consultant, occasional lecturer and well-regarded “brutally honest” speaker, Brooke has a diverse range of experiences and draws on these to bring focus, simplicity and progression for her clients.


Carly Irving

General Manager, Customer and Market Operations

Energy Queensland

When Carly Irving joined Energex as a HR consultant, she couldn’t have imagined that nine years later she’d be leading the Customer and Market Operations team in the Energy Queensland distribution business. It’s a career progression she credits to understanding the importance of building a customer-centric business and fostering a cohesive and engaged team. Her department is accountable for customer service interactions, systems, processes and continuous improvement in the delivery of positive customer outcomes. She is passionate about engaging people to build an organizational culture that puts the customer at the heart of decision making, fostering a positive work environment and delivering improved, sustainable business results.


Darryl Lyons




Emma Weston

CEO and Co-founder


Emma Weston is the CEO and a Co-founder of AgriDigital, one of Australia’s leading emerging agtech and fintech companies. Emma has had a diverse career as a lawyer, agribusiness executive and executive coach. She is mentor to several start ups and founders in Australia and overseas, and was recently named one of Australia’s Top 25 Fintech Influencers and was awarded Female Fintech Leader of the Year and Emerging Fintech Leader of the Year for 2017 by FinTech Australia as well as Female Fintech Leader of the Year at the 2017 Australian Fintech Awards.

In December 2016, AgriDigital achieved the world’s first settlement of a physical agri-commodity on a blockchain between a farmer and a buyer in New South Wales, Australia and this was recognized by Fintech Australia presenting AgriDigital the Excellence in Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology Award for 2017. AgriDigital recently launched its digital supply chain platform for the agricultural sector and continues to work with blockchain and other novel enabling technologies to bring efficiency and transparency to global supply chains.

A sought-after speaker on agtech, fintech, women in tech and blockchain, Emma holds an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management, a LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne, and a BA from the University of Melbourne. Emma is an active tech community member and advisor to startups. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a non-executive director of the Australian Digital Commerce Association and Fintech Australia.


Dr Graham Brodie

Senior Food and Agriculture Lecturer

University of Melbourne

Dr Graham Brodie is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences. He earned his electrical engineering degree from James Cook University and worked in the electrical industry for some time before turning his hand to academia. Dr Brodie’s research interests include: microwave heating of bio-materials; using microwaves for sensing and communication in agriculture and forestry; improving water use efficiency in agriculture; producing renewable energy on farms; on-farm animal waste management; and applications of Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing technologies in agriculture and archaeology.


Janine Milne

Queensland Board Member

Australian Women in Agriculture

Janine Milne is a senior teacher of various agricultural subjects at Dalby State High School, in Darling Downs, Queensland. Janine has also been coordinating the agriculture subject area since 2015. Prior to teaching, Janine has worked in the beef cattle feedlotting and organic poultry industries in various positions. Janine received a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning at the University of Southern Queensland in 2011; and a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Animal Production, and Rural and Regional Business Management at the University of Queensland, Gatton Campus in 2008. Janine believes that agriculture is one of the most exciting, innovative and technology-driven industry that offers young people plenty of STEM opportunities in agricultural context to develop their skills so they can be competitive in the employment market.


Dr John Abbot

Principal Scientist

Climate Modelling Laboratory

Dr John Abbot has more than thirty years experience in research, most recently in the application of artificial neural networks (ANNs) for climatic forecasting, published in international climate science journals including Atmospheric Research and Advances in Atmospheric Research.

Dr Abbot has worked as a scientist in universities and industry. He held faculty research positions in chemistry and chemical engineering at Queens University, Canada, and the University of Tasmania, where he successfully supervised 12 honours and 6 PhD students. His research involved mathematical modelling of kinetic phenomena in complex chemical processes. He was a Professorial Research Fellow at Central Queensland University working on environmental studies, including development of the application of big data techniques including ANNs to medium- and long-term rainfall forecasting. He also worked in industry R&D departments at Triplex Safety Glass, Caltex Refineries and the Sugar Research Institute.

Dr Abbot has 4 science degrees: BSc (Imperial College), MSc (University of British Columbia), MBiotech (University of Queensland), PhD (McGill University) and Diploma in Applied Computing (Central Queensland University).  He also has degrees in law – JD and LLM (University of Queensland), an MBA (Technology Management) and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment.

Dr Abbot has over 100 articles published in the peer-reviewed literature, including 12 papers on the application of neural networks to climatic phenomena, particularly rainfall forecasting. Most recently, a chapter authored by him appeared in the InTechOpen Engineering and Mathematical Topics in Rainfall book, and he is currently editing a book entitled Flood Risk Management with the same publisher. Several publications focus on rainfall forecasting for agricultural regions such as the wheatbelt of Western Australia, sugar cultivation regions of coastal Queensland and the Murray Darling basin.

Dr Abbot has had an interest in the application of ANNs to time-series data for more than 10 years, beginning with the use of these techniques in financial forecasting. His interest in rainfall forecasting was stimulated by the severe flooding in Queensland during 2010/2011, when the low skill of official forecasts using general circulation models became evident.


John Hodgson

Senior Complex Systems Architect

Independent Contractor

John Hodgson has 30-plus years of practical experience in systems architecture, design, development, implementation, service management and Information Technology.

He grew up in Port Moresby, the Territory of Papua, New Guinea in the 60s, attended a Sydney Boarding School for six years, and settled with his family into the northern suburbs of Sydney in the 70s.

John is a senior Information Systems Architect, specializing in providing expert architectural and compliance support to Government, Risk Mitigations, Defence, Security and Intelligence customers in Complex Systems, Diverse Solutions, and Integration Resolutions.

John has been in the ICT Industry since the 1970s, including a decade-plus in middle-tier Federal Departments (DHC, DAS), 11 years in IBM Canberra as a Lead Systems engineer, and 15 years in Defence Capability and CIO groups, employed by critical infrastructure projects, Policy and Strategy directorates and diverse and cross-domain systems integration requirements.

John has a keen interest in where Information Technologies are developing towards, how the rates of change continue to increase over time, how we can effectively manage risk changes in such circumstances, and where Quantum, Cloud and A.I. developments are taking our society over the next 20 years.


John Leslie

Executive Director

Vertical Farm Systems

Originally trained as a technical trade’s instructor, John Leslie has over 40 years’ experience with engineering design and commercialization. John has a Certificate in Sustainable Farming and more than 8 years practical experience with automated controlled environment growing.

John has a passionate interest in advancing technologies involved with water, energy, food and transport as critical to the survival of civilization in this century.

With ongoing support from both Australian Government R&D funding and AusIndustry Accelerating Commercialization grant funding, and in preparation for starting exports to meet contracts in USA, Canada and the Middle East, John is overseeing operations of the XA Series automated growing system installed on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland producing commercial leafy greens, herbs and vegetable seedlings.


John McLaughlin


CSIRO’s Data61

John McLaughlin is an Analyst within CSIRO’s Data61. He is part of the Strategic Insights team that combine research excellence with business relevance to help governments, businesses and communities navigate change in the digital economy. His team analyses emerging trends, drivers and scenarios, and apply modelling approaches to generate insights and inform future strategy and policy decisions. Their services focus on translating research to solve real-world problems for business and policy, and help decision makers better prepare for future challenges and opportunities.


Assoc Prof John McLean Bennett

Federal President

Soil Science Australia

John McLean Bennett, Associate Professor of Soil Science at the University of Southern Queensland, grew up on a sheep and cattle station situated in semi-arid rangeland (New South Wales) where he developed a strong linkage to land, agriculture and resource management. He subsequently graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Science (Resource and Environmental Management) with Honours (Soil Science), and The University of Sydney with a PhD (Soil Science). Through these degrees he grew a strong appreciation for taking a systems approach to soil management, which he has taken into his leadership positions with his university and as Federal President of Soil Science Australia.

John is a soil physicist with expertise in soil structure. His research falls into three key areas, with an overarching context of soil security and digital rural futures: 1) Applied soils and irrigation projects in collaboration with agricultural/mining industries; 2) Fundamental research directed towards understanding water quality interactions with soil physical and chemical mechanisms and processes; and 3) Agricultural extension and data management. He seeks to use fundamental understanding of soil physics and chemistry to move theoretical approaches towards catchment scale prediction and decision management tools.


Justin Clarke

Robotics Systems Engineer, Australian Centre for Field Robotics

The University of Sydney

Justin Clarke is a robotic system engineer with 8 years of experience developing automated systems and robotic solutions, having worked on projects covering the spectrum from research to mass production. Currently working on the development of an operational prototype for the horticulture industry called RIPPA, Justin is always looking to push the boundaries of cutting edge technology while designing systems that growers can use.

The University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) has been conducting research in autonomous remote sensing systems, and developing innovative robotics and intelligent software for the environment and agriculture community for over a decade. Robotic solutions have been developed for horticulture, grazing livestock, smallholder farmers, forestry and land management.


Katie McRobert

General Manager

Australian Farm Institute

Katie McRobert has worked in journalism, editing, photography, graphic design, production, management, research and strategy across print and online platforms. For the past few years, her focus has been on digital community strategy, building ‘knowledge banks’ in sustainable agriculture. Since December 2017, she has worked with the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) on independent agricultural policy research and communications. The AFI aims to enhance the economic and social wellbeing of farmers and the agricultural sector in Australia by conducting highly credible public policy research and promoting the outcomes to policymakers and the wider community.


Matthew Fealy


HortRobotics Australia

Matthew Fealy from Mareeba in Far North Queensland, was a recipient of the 2017 Nuffield Scholarship supported by Woolworths. He investigates how the use of robotics and automation in horticulture has the opportunity to revolutionize the industry.

Matthew has only recently made a career change into horticulture. He was a senior manager at a global travel agency for over a decade before taking on his current role as farm manager at Blue Sky Produce, a 153-acre family farm that produces mangoes, avocados and Tahitian limes for the Australian and export markets. He believes that that the industry is facing significant labor cost challenges and a dwindling labor supply, yet has little or no automation of repetitive tasks.

As an active member of his local growers’ association, and a board member of the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA), Matthew continues to demonstrate commitment to the success of horticulture in Australia into the future.


Dr Michael Schaefer

Research Scientist / Translational Phenomics and Services Team Leader

Australian Plant Phenomics Facility

Dr Michael Schaefer completed his undergraduate degree in Science in 2007 and went on to complete his PhD in Applied Physics in 2012 with his thesis titled “Advanced optical sensing of biomass in plant canopies”. This thesis combined his farming background with his love of science. During his PhD study, he also had the opportunity to do some undergraduate physics lecturing and laboratory demonstrating which he found very rewarding.

Dr Schaefer enjoys the challenge of new environmental science projects, in particular projects where we can apply state of the art technology such as LiDAR and remote sensing to deliver a level of detail in research that has not been achieved before.


Mike Gooey

Executive Director, Agriculture Policy

Agriculture Victoria

Mike Gooey is a senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in the public sector. Has deep expertise in corporate strategy, strategic policy, policy and program development, particularly in agriculture, environment, natural resource management and rural development. Mike has delivered a variety of flagship initiatives for the government. His leadership experience includes portfolios with more than 200 staff and budgets of over $200M. He has strong skills in stakeholder engagement, program delivery and business development.


Prof Paul Martin

Director, Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law

University of New England

After many years of working in advanced technology as a board director, chairman and venture capitalist, Prof Paul Martin became the director of the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law at the University of New England in 2005. One of the AgLaw Centre’s areas of research is the law and governance of agricultural technologies.


Philip Mulvey


Environmental Earth Sciences International

Philip Mulvey, who has a BSc Agric (Soil Science) and MAppSc (Environmental Geology), is an entrepreneur in repair and sustainable use of landscape. He is the founding owner of Environmental Earth Sciences International Group, which includes Carbon Exchange Pty Ltd and he is one of three founding partners of 3D Ag. He has managed teams who have been repairing degradable land in mining, landfills and contaminated sites for over 35 years. He leads a team currently engaged in repairing arid- and war-damaged land in the Middle East.

About a decade ago in partnership with Peter and Hazel McInerney, they bought their combined skills to create a team that specialized in making commercial farming enterprises green while maintaining the balance sheet in the black, lifting yield of degraded farms from 1.0 t/ha in a bad year to 2.0 t/ha. This was achieved by, amongst other things, managing soil carbon.

Successful management depends on measurement and after a decade research and three PhDs at University of Sydney, Faculty of Agriculture (now Sydney Institute of Agriculture) sponsored by both the EESI Group and 3D Ag, a new accurate and precise tool for measuring and managing soil carbon was derived. This patented technology, now tested throughout Australia over a range of farming enterprises is the best basis behind trading of soil carbon and is currently being incorporated into a web/App based system.


Piers Hogarth-Scott

National Practice Leader – Internet of Things

KPMG Australia

Piers Hogarth-Scott has 20 years digital transformation experience in the UK, Australia and Asia as a management consultant and senior executive with Big 4 professional services firms and multinational digital agencies.

Piers established and leads the IoT management consulting practice at KPMG and works with the Firm’s Technology Global Centre of Excellence to drive our capability globally.

He work with senior business leaders to help them create value through taking advantage of digitizing the physical world with the Internet of Things, with a key sector focus on Smart Cities, Smart Food & Fiber and Smart Power & Utilities.

More specifically, Piers helps clients develop strategies to tap into the economic opportunity that is presented by IoT, to help them make better, faster decisions, improve business processes, optimize asset utilization, create compelling customer experiences, develop innovative products and services, reduce business risk and predict future events.

A founding member of the Executive Committee of the IoT Alliance Australia (IoTAA), board advisor to Hypercat a leading standard for interoperability of IoT, and recognized by Business Age as one of the Top 50 Entrepreneurs in the UK to have made the most significant contribution to the Internet, innovation and wealth creation.


Richard Murdoch

Long Term Grain Grower

Tuckokcowie Station

Having benefited from the experience of four previous farming generations at Warooka on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, Richard Murdoch, his wife Lee-Anne, their son Will and staff grow wheat, canola, lentils and faba beans on some challenging soil types in a Mediterranean-type climate. They also operate a self-replacing Murray Grey cattle herd and Merino sheep flock. Sharing knowledge and fostering strategies with the next generation is of high importance to Richard whose passion for agriculture from an early age has extended beyond the farm to include involvement in the Agricultural Bureau of SA, Advisory Board of Agriculture SA, Agribusiness Council of Australia SA, the YP Alkaline Soils Group and grain marketing groups.


Dr Rohan Rainbow


Ag Tech Centric

Dr Rohan Rainbow is a Canberra-based consultant with more than 30 years of experience in agricultural industry leadership, having overseen the development and implementation of investment of a number of industry strategies in plant breeding for biotic traits, crop protection, biosecurity, food and feed safety, farming systems, precision agriculture, robotics, automation, data and digital agriculture. After 17 years in the Clare Valley, where he was the founding executive officer of the national precision agriculture association SPAA, he left in 2006 to take on the role as the national crop protection manager for the Grains Research and Development Corporation. Rohan Is Managing Director of the consulting company Crop Protection Australia and a director of AgtechCentric. He currently consults to a number of Rural Research and Development Corporations, industry organisations, commercial companies and was recently the Project Leader – Accelerating Precision Agriculture to Decision Agriculture P2D Project involving all 15 RDCs and the Australian Government. Rohan is also a consultant advisor to Grain Producers Australia on agricultural chemical access, policy and regulation.


Ros Harvey

Founder & Managing Director

The Yield

Ros Harvey is an experienced entrepreneur and executive in the field of technology, particularly the Internet of Things (IoT) and user-centric design. Ros is committed to creating public good through the innovative use of technology, which is reflected throughout her career.

Since Ros founded Australian AgTech company, The Yield, in 2014. It has become one of the industry’s fastest growing technology success stories. The Yield is backed by several leading global businesses including Bosch, KPMG and Microsoft.

Ros is passionate about technology playing a role in the sustainable governance of the planet, and is an accomplished speaker on AgTech, IoT, converting data to knowledge and the future of food. Ros founded the globally recognised Better Work program, a landmark joint program of the World Bank and the United Nations.


Dr Russell Ford

Head of Research



Sean Starling

General Manager – Research, Development and Innovation

Meat and Livestock Australia

Sean Starling is General Manager – Research, Development and Innovation. A member of Meat & Livestock Australia’s executive team, Sean is responsible for MLA’s $170 million annual R&D investment across the Australian red meat industry value chain. Innovation areas cover: global innovation insights; value chain innovation; food safety and industry traceability and integrity systems; product development and value-adding; automation technology; and building industry innovation capability.

Sean has been engaged in food value chains for most of his career. Having worked in a range of organizations and positions from factory engineer to general manager in manufacturing, R&D and engineering organizations, it underpins Sean’s ability to work with business and scientific thinkers to facilitate delivery of their concepts into commercial reality. In addition to ensuring no good opportunity is wasted, Sean has a passion in supporting young people to strive and deliver in an ever-changing and complex environment.


Sonja Cameron


Cameron’s Nursery

Sonja Cameron is a Director of Cameron’s Nursery alongside her husband Andy Cameron. Both instilled with a passion for horticulture, they started Cameron’s Nursery in 1992, supplying quality plants to the retail nurseries, chain stores and the landscape sector. With a steadfast commitment to the environment, Sonja endeavored to run the business guided by beliefs in a sustainability and environmental responsibility.

After purchasing a block of land in Arcadia in 2000 to build a new nursery, Sonja and Andy designed the layout of the new site specifically to achieve their water-saving and environmental goals. They employed the “Recycle Reduce Reuse” scheme as part of the their sustainability policy. Constantly reviewing all aspects of the business, “Think Local Buy Local” also became a prominent motto both at work and at home.

Sonja is heavily involved in her industry, with schools, TAFE and Universities and with her local community, regularly conducting tours and speaking about her passion for plants and the environment.