Conference Speakers
Tuesday 8 September 2020

Member's Breakfast

Kate Andison - Reid River Export Depot

Kate Andison was born and raised in the beef industry. Growing up on her family’s cattle property – Braceborough Station, west of Charters Towers. There her family predominantly ran a Droughtmaster breeder herd, however since the long-lasting droughts they have made the move into trade cattle. While still involved in the family’s business, Kate’s main role is in the Live Export Industry. She is the Logistic Manager at Reid River Export Depot, near Townsville and is extremely passionate about the industry. She is a member of YLEN (Young Live Exporters Network) as well as a Livestock Leader, which is program run by The Livestock Collective, supported by MLA. She has started the new group – Supporting Townsville Live Export which is a platform where information about Live Export in Townsville can be shared. 

(She knows nothing about Leuceuna, only that it makes bullocks fat 😉)

Introduction to Leucaena Workshop 

Craig Lemin - Research Officer and Project Lead DAF

Craig Lemin is a Research Officer, Sown Pastures with DAF Mareeba.  Craig has extensive experience with northern beef research and development and is Project Leader for the Pinnerendi Live Weight Gain trails. Craig has a degree in agricultural engineering and operates his own small beef cattle enterprise.

Hugh Rea - Rubina Station

Hugh along with his wife Katie and 4 boys live at Rubina near Dingo in Central Queensland where they look after the southern part of the family partnership grazing business.

The family run a commercial Droughtmaster herd over five properties and target the Jap Ox market with surplus females fattened and sold direct to works.

In 2012, they were successful with the planting of 95 ha of Wondergraze which encouraged them to purchase the equipment required to plant more in the future without having the need for contractors.  In 2014, 250 ha of leucaena was planted and in 2018 a further 320 ha.

These last 2 paddocks were planted during very dry periods, however the plants have hung in there and the paddocks are on their way to being significantly more productive than before helping to meet our goal of +300kg carcases at 2 years of age.

Apart from Hugh’s involvement with TLN he and Katie provide support to a number of other local community groups around Dingo including the Rural Fire Brigade, Dingo State School P&C and bus committee.

Brett Blennerhassett - Goshen Station

Brett grew up farming bananas and breeding and fattening cattle for the family owned butcher shop and he then went on to become a butcher/slaughterman by trade.  He continued to work on the family properties and once qualified, with his father and brother, established a butcher shop and abattoir at Bingil Bay.

The family transitioned out of bananas and the butcher shop in 2008 to concentrate on cattle breeding and wholesaling meat and Brett and his wife Theresa now concentrate on breeding and backgrounding cattle for supply to Brett’s brother Grant’s Bingil Bay abattoir.

Brett has been a part of The Network’s Redlands for the Regions project and the current Northern Australian Value Chain PDS.  Goshen currently has 620 acres of Redlands leucaena and Brett’s five year plan is to increase Goshen’s leucaena plantings by 500 acres per year.  Goshen is also one of the Northern Beef Genomics trial sites.  

Craig Antonio - Borambil

Craig is a lifelong Millmerran boy and farmer, turned cattleman who owns and manages “Borambil’ with his wife Lexie and their three girls.  Craig runs predominantly Angus breeders and purchased cattle across their three breeding and one finishing properties.   Craig has been an avid supporter of Leucaena since he first planted it more than 15 years ago and the couple currently have plantings of 400ha Leucaena with plans to increase this with an additional 1500ha.  Craig’s initial plantings were Cunningham and Tarramba and he now also grows Wondergraze. Stock on ‘Borambil’ are rotational grazed with high stocking rates and weight gains of up to 1.6kg/day have been achieved.  Craig has been involved in The Leucanea Network since 2004 and served as President from 2009 to 2018.

Sterile Leucaena

Assoc. Prof. Christopher Lambrides - UQ

Christopher is a Molecular Plant Breeder/Physiologist who gained his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science from UQ in 1981 majoring in Plant Breeding and Genetics. He then worked as a plant breeder for Pioneer Hi-Bred Aust. breeding summer crops for Northern Australia until 1990.  From 1991-2 he worked as a Graduate Assistant in the USDA Sunflower breeding program in Fargo, North Dakota while studying for a Master’s degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics which he received from North Dakota State University. In 1992 he completed a PhD in Molecular Plant Breeding/Physiology at UQ and later worked as a Post-Doctoral Scientist for CSIRO again working on summer crops addressing major issues confronting Northern Australian farmers. In 2003 he joined UQ and has been there ever since again focussing his research on crop and pasture challenges important to Northern Australia. He has had a long association with MLA and was a member of the UQ Leucaena breeding team that developed “Redlands” a psyllid resistant cultivar. He is now leading an MLA funded research program to breed Sterile Leucaena and has a keen interest on Buffel grass breeding to address the devastating syndrome ‘buffel grass dieback’ that has gripped the Queensland pastoral sector.

Daniel Real - WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

Dr Daniel Real has 30 years of experience in agronomy and breeding of annual and perennial forage species for temperate, subtropical, tropical and Mediterranean climates. He has released 12 cultivars of nine species, published 52 peer-reviewed journal articles, 2 books, 12 book chapters and 63 conference papers. He moved from Uruguay to Australia in 2003 to lead a lotus breeding program for WA, Vic, NSW and SA. Dr Real worked at the University of Western Australia for five years and since 2008 has worked with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Western Australia. He has been the driving force behind the commercialisation of a world-first forage species known as tedera, a Mediterranean perennial legume with summer drought tolerance. He is the senior breeder of the co-funded MLA and DPIRD Sterile Leucaena project in Western Australia. He has successfully conducted hand-crosses between different species of leucaena, creating potential sterile varieties for the first time in Australia. His substantial and creative research effort has been sustained over this time in an environment with diminishing resources and this has been the catalyst for some innovative research partnerships involving collaboration across international and national research institutions, working on-farm with local producers and engaging with agricultural research funders and agri-business to develop products.

Carbon 2030

Dr Ed Charmley - CSIRO

Ed comes from a farming background in the UK and received his Bachelors from Aberdeen University and a PhD from The Grassland Research Institute near Reading. After immigrating to Canada he specialized in forage utilization from both grazed and conserved herbage. For the last 15 years, Ed has worked for CSIRO in northern Australia where he has focused on beef production in extensive, sub-tropical rangelands and savannas. He is based in Townsville. His current research activities lie in the use of technology to record hard to measure animal and environmental variables in the field, understanding livestock methane emissions from extensive grazing systems and improving the feed efficiency of ruminants.

Karen King - Department of Environment

Karen works on climate change policy with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER). Prior to joining the public service, she worked on environmental research focused on understanding interactions between management and climate change impacts.

Karen has been actively involved in the development of a number of Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) land sector methods and method reviews. Her current work focuses on identifying opportunities to reduce livestock methane emissions through forage feeds and feed supplements. Over the last 8 months, the Department has been drafting a Livestock Roadmap with industry – to develop pathways to account for reductions in livestock emissions, determine the feasibility of these practice changes, and incentivise implementation and uptake of activities integrating methane-reducing feeds into the diet across the industry. 

Julien Gastaldi - Corporate Carbon

Julien runs a business that provides subcontracting services to the carbon industry, governments and corporates on GHG accounting & management, and the development of carbon projects.

He has extensive experience in leading a social enterprise that works to develop carbon farming projects with indigenous groups, farmers and other and managers, under a mission statement “to unlock sustainable agriculture and carbon transformations through scalable land management whose benefits prioritise indigenous prosperity, empowerment, food security and resilient communities."

Julien started working on the Beef Cattle Herd Management Method in 2017; first with Paraway then CPC, AACo, and now as part of an effort to mainstream the approach known as the Herd aggregation project, in partnership with Paraway , Corporate Carbon and Southern Gulf NRM.

He is here today to share the latest on how the industry could help tackle Climate Change.

Leucaena - New Territories

Bruce Mayne - Mayne Seeds

BORN: 30th February 1936 in Iceland where his family grew Bananas for a living. Bruce soon grew into bright, tall good looking man whose dark brooding features proved irresistible to women and men alike. 

EDUCATED: At the age of eight Bruce won a scholarship to Oxford where he did a double degree in digital technology and dentistry before he majored in corporate law. He then moved to Tibet where he tried growing Mangoes at the Everest Base camp. This proved as successful as his father’s attempts to grow bananas had been. The major drawback was that it was too high for bees to fly up, making pollination very difficult. This led to a major breakthrough when he discovered that penguin’s were able to achieve the same results.    

POSITIONS HELD. Whilst travelling through Middle East he visited Palestine and Israel. He proved so popular they coerced him into becoming Prime Minister of both countries at the same time. He soon tired of that and took a position as captain of the Mozambique ice hockey team.

He now lives at “Fairview” Calliope and says his greatest challenge to date is trying to grow leucaena into gravel banks. 

Tom and Chistine Saunders - Whitewater Station

Tom Saunders was originally from Western Australia with a qualification of Sheetmetal/Boilermaker background. Christine’s family have owned and operated Whitewater Station since 1969.  Tom & Christine took over running Whitewater Station in 1993. Tom having no experience in cattle industry was eager to gain knowledge and attended any courses going.  Noticing the weaner poddies eating the Leucaena (Peru) in and around house yard under trees and heavy basalt rock, planted from a field day at Boomerang Station in 1970 by Christine’s grandfather, had him intrigued.  In 2004 Tom attended a workshop on “Leucaena for Profit and Sustainability” on Don Heatley’s property in Home hill with Associate Professor Max Shelton of the University of Queensland.  Here Tom was advised that it would be hard to establish in the trees. This did not deter Tom from persisting to grow leucaena under the trees.  When the opportunity arose in 2014 to participate in the introduction of new strands of Leucaena and palatablity trail with DAF, UQ and MLA,  Tom jumped at the opportunity.  After a successful tial, Tom then commenced planting another site of 33 hectares in trees along with DAF and MLA..  Due to weather conditions, it took two attempts at planting and Tom finally found the success he was looking for, proving that it can be done in the trees. Tom & Christine currently have 50 hectares of Leucaena planted and their goal is to have 1000 hectares in red basalt soil.

Darcy O'Brien - The Brooke

Darcy has been involved in broad scale grass fed beef production his entire working career. Together with his wife Lynda they own and operate O’Brien Cattle and Land Co based at The Brook station in Northern Queensland. Lynda is a practising lawyer in amongst her many other roles of the business and as a mother to three children . 

 Darcy enjoys large scale property development with an acute focus on sustainable use of soil, water and grass and how to manage them to create a prosperous future not only for their business but importantly the broader community. 

Dr Mark Harrison - QUT Snr Research Fellow

Mark Harrison is a biochemist with over twenty years of basic, applied, and commercial research experience. He is a Senior Research Fellow and foundation member of the QUT Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy. Mark also provides consulting services to the Australian food and bio-industrial sector. Research in his group is focused on the conversion of agricultural wastes and residues into more valuable food, feed, fibre, fine chemical, and fuel products, and his current research projects include:

  • fibre modification to enhance digestibility in ruminants and non-ruminants

  • production of soluble sugar products from plant biomass

  • production of single cell protein using crop residues as substrates

  • isolation of natural plant products, bioactives, and nutraceuticals

  • biomass pretreatment chemistry

Fraser Hewitt - Charvel Grazing

Fraser is part of ‘Charvel Grazing’, a fourth generation grazing and cropping enterprise in the Dawson Valley in Central Queensland.  Charvel runs 1500 Hereford, Santa Getrudis and Angus breeders and progeny.  Cropping is also part of the Charvel enterprise mix with over 2000 acres of cultivation and irrigation via centre pivots and some flood irrigation.  Whilst all the family is involved in all aspects of the business, Fraser focuses on the engineering, maintenance and repairs and hay!  And now leucaena!

Tropical Pasture Update

Dr Kendrick Cox - Senior Scientist, DAF

Kendrick Cox is a tropical pasture and pasture seed agronomist working for DAF in Mareeba.  He is here representing the DAF feed-base and beef extension team which conducts feed-base related research and whole-of-business extension mostly in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Burdekin, tropical coast and tablelands regions of Queensland, but also extending into central Queensland.  Dr Cox has 20+ years of experience in tropical pasture development in Queensland and in nearby tropical countries. Current research centres around the development of genetic resources for cultivar development, seed crop agronomy and pasture plant evaluation in north and central Queensland.  The research team has a particular focus on the development of herbaceous and tree legumes for improving pasture productivity and business resilience within a variable climate.

Project Updates

Bernie English - Senior Extension Officer Beef - DAF

Bernie has more than 40 years experience in pasture and beef research, development and extension including research and trials in native, improved and irrigated pasture systems, silage production and tropical pasture seed production, breeder herd management, cattle nutrition and supplementation including feedlot and molasses production feeding, cattle marketing, MSA technology, economic analysis of beef business performance, rangeland monitoring, property planning and use of fire in the rangelands.  In addition, Bernie has operated his own private beef cattle enterprise for more than 40 years and along with DAF colleagues, is on one of premier advisors on leucaena in Northern Queensland.

Laurie Peake - Cherwondah

Laurie is a cattle man who recommends feeding cattle on leucaena for the most economical growth rates.Laurie is from a long line of farmers however after establishing his own cattle and wheat property at Wandoan, he and wife Gwen undertook a tree change for 20 years.   


Laurie and Gwen have now been back for 20 years and have converted all of their cropping land to leucaena.


Laurie reckons that, except for having to mow the lawn, fix flooded fences or those that weaned calves or over anxious mothers have broken down, repair broken water lines, replace old troughs, tag calves, brand calves, wean calves and market them when they are finished, a retired man like him can pretty well sit on the veranda all day and watch the cattle pile on the weight while grazing on the Leucaena.

Bron Christensen - The Leucaena Network

With the Dawson River running through her blood, Bron is a fourth generation Theodore, Central Queensland grazier. Bron returned to Theodore in 2001 to purchase and operate a beef breeding enterprise with her husband.  Bron has a background in agriculture, rural health, business and project management. She holds a Bachelor of Business, and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and is currently studying for her Bachelor of Science – Regenerative Agriculture.  She was previously Regional Manager - Dawson and Callide Valleys for Cotton Australia prior to her appointment as Executive Officer for The Leucaena Network in 2017.  Bron is passionate about the potential of leucaena and the benefits to the Australian red-meat industry.

Conference Dinner

Guest Speaker

Don Heatley - Byrne Valley

Don Heatley OAM is a fifth generation north Queensland cattle farmer, and is the Chair of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Commission.

Don has two stations and 8,000 head of cattle on the lower Burdekin River, and his family business produces beef for highly specialised markets in Korea, Japan and the United States. Don is a passionate and committed advocate for both promotion of Australian agribusiness interests overseas and investing in the strengthening of domestic agribusiness in developing countries.

Don has more than 30 years’ experience promoting the Australian beef industry internationally, including as former chairman of Meat and Livestock Australia, and through roles on state livestock councils and the Cattle Council of Australia.

Don has a strong personal interest in the provision of research and development support to domestic beef industries throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East. 

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