Agronomy, like most agricultural research, is coming to grips with changing methods, driven by advances such as GPS systems and biotechnology. Markets and operating conditions are also changing, as consumers become very vocal about their food supply and environment in which their food is produced.
When thinking about a theme for the 10th Australian Agronomy Conference, we invited a group of agronomists with varied backgrounds and current activities (field officers, researchers, consultants, extension workers and industry representatives) to a brainstorming session. The overwhelming response was that they wanted a balanced examination of what was going on with all the new science and technology which they were being confronted with every day, both professionally and as consumers. We have therefore adopted the theme:
“Science and Technology:
delivering results for agriculture?”
The emphasis was to be on the query at the end: what is really of benefit, currently or potentially, and how much is just technology driven by the developers or those with a financial interest in seeing it adopted?
One important advance in technology is in the use of improved computing power, via the internet and electronic information exchange. We have taken the step of organising the conference as far as possible electronically, including producing the proceedings on CD. The hard copy proceedings of the 9th Conference weighed in at 2.5 kg, which we felt was becoming unmanageable. Copies of the 9th Proceedings are still available for sale if you wish to purchase one as a piece of history! We are collaborating with The Regional Institute (Roger Johnson reported at this conference), to put proceedings of all past Agronomy Conferences on their web site, to be freely available and searchable. This will help to make an invaluable resource available to researchers, advisors, farmers and students.
The Australian Society of Agronomy has now held 10 conferences over the last 21 years. This has been the Society’s main role, which was confirmed at the 9th Conference where other possibilities such as professional accreditation were considered but not accepted. The process of having the conference rotate around the country with a different management committee each time has been generally worked well, although each new committee is on a steep learning curve and needs assistance from the previous one.
I would like to thank Conference Design for their professional help with organisation of the 10th Conference. The job is now too much for volunteers, with increasing pressures on our time and resources. I would also like to thank the Management Committee, other Committees and others who have assisted in many ways, and our sponsors for their interest and support.
On behalf of the Management Committee and the Society I would like to welcome you to Hobart, and wish you an enjoyable stay in Tasmania. I hope you find that the conference gives you an opportunity to exchange information and ideas with like minded people, and gives you an overview of where agronomy is at as (dare I say it?) we enter the new millennium.
President, Australian Society of Agronomy
Hobart, January 2001