From paddock to the final product, working in agriculture offers countless diverse and fulfilling career paths. With this year’s National Agriculture Day theme, ‘Choose your #Agventure,’ we’re taking a look at the diverse roles – and the people in them – at the heart of GrainCorp.
Introducing Bruce Burgess, Animal Nutrition and Innovation Manager, GrainCorp Feeds.
Whether it was mustering cattle, or driving the tractor, Bruce Burgess was in his element growing up on his family’s beef and cattle breeding farm near Tenterfield, in northern NSW.
“I’ve always had a fascination and passion for animals, which carries through in the work I do for GrainCorp today,” he says.
After finishing university, Bruce headed back to the land, managing two large-scale irrigated cotton and dryland farms in the Moree and Goondiwindi regions on the NSW-Queensland border.
That was only the start of his 40-year ‘AgVenture’.
In 1993, he bought his own intensive irrigation farm near Inglewood, in Queensland, before moving halfway across the world in 1999 to China.
There, he managed a large-scale farming project for PepsiCo, setting up a pilot potato farm in the Gobi Desert to test irrigation technologies that transform desert into fertile land for potato farming.
Today, PepsiCo is one of China’s largest potato growers, but back then, Bruce was at the infancy of something challenging and very exciting – just as he is now, in his work with GrainCorp Feeds to reduce methane production in ruminants.
“In China, I found myself dealing with all extremes of farming – in the literal sense, too, in freezing temperatures at certain times of the year,” he says.
“However, the time I spent there opened my eyes to the sheer scale of the agriculture industry, not just in Australia but further abroad, the diversity of people and the importance of technology and modern machinery in driving efficiency.”
Now, Bruce is combining his passion for animals with his progressive approach to work, as he delves into the world of Asparagopsis (red seaweed).
Specifically, he’s testing its methane-reducing capacities for FutureFeed – a partnership between GrainCorp, the CSIRO and other investors, to take an innovative seaweed-based animal feed product to market worldwide.
“For many years, the GrainCorp Feeds division helped farmers increase livestock productivity through animal feed solutions.
“Now, we’re entering an exciting new era in the development and production of solutions to reduce methane emissions.”
Bruce says this work has shown him that sustainability is both a challenge and an opportunity for the industry.
“The cattle industry is facing massive pressure to reduce its carbon footprint, with livestock production being a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
“I believe Asparagopsis will be a game-changer for this and it’s exciting to be involved at its infancy.”