Newsletter Spring/Summer 2006

Welcome to the Spring Update from Peracto

In October this year Serve-Ag Research Pty Ltd became Peracto Pty Ltd. Peracto is Latin for, “to carry through, complete, accomplish”, which we believe is very consistent with the way we operate.

The brand change starts a new era for the organisation, which has recorded annual growth of 20% for the past 10 years and an increased workforce from 10 to 47 people operating across Australia and New Zealand. Serve-Ag Research evolved as a business group of Serve-Ag, developing its own client base and distinct research focus. Its ongoing march into the national and international arenas prompted the move to re-brand the business.

The decision to re-brand was made by the board based on the need for brand clarification. Considerable work was done through surveys of staff and clients to create the Peracto brand. We will continue to offer our clients the wide portfolio of agricultural research, and scientific and technical services, offered in the past, under our new banner.

Other recent highlights in the company include the expansion of services offered in New Zealand and winning the Agribusiness Category of the North West Commerce and Industry Awards.

On behalf of all our staff I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2007.

Ian Macleod, Managing Director

New office in Werribee

The Peracto research network continues to grow and a recent addition to the group is the Werribee office. This office is part of the South-Eastern Australian Group under the close guidance of John Seidel, with Elizabeth Fields and Ryan Blackney working from this location. Greg Barnes, located in Shepparton, is also part of this group.

Both Elizabeth and Ryan have completed a Degree with Honours in Applied Science (Biology and Biotechnology) at RMIT University in Melbourne, with a background focusing on aquatic ecology and ecotoxicology. For the past three years Elizabeth has worked as a research and technical officer at RMIT. Ryan completed his Honours last year and has worked at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in Sydney as a project investigator and as a technical officer at RMIT. Our new staff members are very enthusiastic about their roles and show a keen interest in agriculture. They look forward to further developing their skills in agricultural research and providing quality and timely research.

In the six months the Werribee office has been established, field research has been undertaken in the Melbourne region, which encompasses a wide range of horticultural and broadacre crops. The key growing areas where trials have been located include Werribee (intensive vegetables, hydroponics/greenhouse crops, and broadacre crops), Geelong (broadacre crops and some Asian vegetables), Macedon Ranges (wine grapes), Bacchus Marsh (stone fruits, fruit trees, strawberries and intensive vegetables), Ballarat (potatoes), Cranbourne (intensive vegetables), Shepparton (broadacre crops) and Monbulk (cut flowers and bulbs).

As the business in Melbourne continues to grow, the Werribee staff are continually establishing new relationships with growers and key industry contacts and offer the network of research expertise and experience that is a feature of Peracto.

Irrigating trial plots

The Peracto South Australian team resorted to some unusual methods this year to keep some residue trials alive during the dry winter. Plots of wheat, barley, oats, canola and faba beans near Arthurton on Yorke Peninsula suffered from moisture stress during the season. Some trials were able to be re-established at Kalangadoo in the south-east of the state, but this was not possible for the trials where pre-emergent products had already been applied.

To ensure the survival of these crops, some irrigation was required. A water main was able to be accessed near the trial, and by tapping into this supply an irrigation source was established. Due to water pressure limitations, it was only possible to water portions of the trial area at any one time. Most of the irrigation had to be done at night to minimise evaporation. Andrew Mason camped out at the trial sites for 7 nights over a 3 week period to start and move sprinklers as required.

After receiving irrigation approximating 25 mm of rainfall, all of the irrigated trials yielded sufficient material to fulfil the residue requirements. This is a great example of an extreme situation that called for an extraordinary solution, and ensured results for the clients!

New Launceston office

Three members of the Tasmanian Peracto team recently moved into a new office in Launceston. Research Officers Sarah Flynn, Dennis Patten and Kate Williams are now working from 145 Abbott Street, Newstead, which is in close proximity to the Tamar Valley (renowned for vineyards and apple orchards).

This location is also very handy for work in broadacre cereals, vegetables (peas, beans, potatoes), poppies and canola and is close to highways that link Launceston with other key trial regions such as Devonport and Hobart. The Government research station at Cressy (20 km away) provides Peracto staff with access to equipment, such as a small plot seeder, harvester and irrigation systems.

Contact details: 145 Abbott Street, Newstead TAS 7250, phone (03) 6343 0066.

Peracto continues to expand in WA

Peracto recently announced that John Matthiessen will be joining its Western Australian office. Formally of the CSIRO, John will be adding another link to the already prosperous Western Australian office as Principal Research Scientist.

John has worked in the entomology field for 35 years. His specialties include insect ecology, pest management, biofumigation, enhanced biodegradation and disease management in a range of crops including pastures, vegetables, turf and plantation forestry.

Mark Sumner, Peracto WA Manager said “John brings enormous experience not only in entomological terms but also in experience and contacts with industry and government personnel.”

“He will also be pivotal in the training and development of less experienced staff in scientific principles and practices. This fits in with our policy of investing in people and training them to become effective research scientists.”

In addition to his new role with Peracto, John will also maintain his position this year as the Chief Editor of the Australian Journal of Entomology.

Melbourne conference

The Peracto team met in Melbourne in July for a staff conference, the first full meeting held by the group since it became a single entity (as opposed to being part of Serve-Ag Pty Ltd). A Regional Management meeting was also incorporated into the beginning of the week.

All Peracto personnel attended, travelling from distant regions such as Bowen in North Queensland, Perth (WA), Adelaide (SA) as well as Brisbane, Stanthorpe and Goondiwindi (Queensland). From across the water came delegates from Tasmania as well as Pukekohe, Hawkes Bay and Canterbury in New Zealand.

The conference provided an opportunity to share information and discuss issues, with sessions on topics such as ARM software training, GLP and team building. The program also included some excellent presentations by group personnel on their special interests. On the last day of the conference, a field trip was made to the new Peracto office at Werribee and to Eureka! AgResearch.

Presentations were made for “Excellence in Report Writing” to Mark Sumner (Perth), and for “Excellence in GLP” to Paul Munro (Pukekohe, NZ). Susan Cross (Devonport) was presented with an award to mark her 10th anniversary with the company. Some special presentations were also made to various personnel for some not so notable achievements!