Speaker Profiles


Session 1: Who will benefit from digital agriculture?

Charles Baron, Co-Founder and VP Product, Farmers Business Network

Session 2: Digital technology through the supply chain (and its impact on farm)

Emma Germano, 2014 Nuffield Australia Farming Scholar

Harvey Gaynor, Chief Executive Officer, Auscott Limited


Professor James Rowe, Chief Executive Officer, Sheep CRC Ltd

Professor James Rowe is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) based in Armidale. Before taking on this role he was the Professor of Animal Science at the University of New England for eight years. Professor Rowe has over 30 year's research experience working for commercial companies, international development programs, government agencies and universities.

Sheep CRC research achievements include: development of precision sheep production technologies; accelerating the introduction of genomics in sheep breeding; systems for sheep meat grading; the measurement and calibration of next-to-skin comfort for wool knitwear; and web-based apps to help the sheep industry 'harvest the benefits of digital agriculture'.

Session 3: The role of digital technologies in governance and compliance systems

Dr Sjaak Wolfert, Senior Scientist Information Management and ICT in Agri-Food, Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands

Dr. Sjaak Wolfert studied Plant Science in Wageningen and finished his PhD 'Sustainable agriculture: how to make it work?' in 2002. Currently, he is working as Senior Scientist at Wageningen University and Research in the field of Information Management and ICT in Agri-Food. He coordinates international projects such as the EU-project Internet of Food and Farm (IoF2020). He is affiliated with the Information Technology Group of Wageningen University and was president of the European Federation of ICT in Agriculture (EFITA). Sjaak is a visionary, challenged by complex problems that require a science-based approach where organisational and technical aspects need to be combined. 

Dan Galligan, Chief Executive Officer, Canegrowers

Dan Galligan commenced as Canegrowers CEO in June 2015. Since then, Dan has been involved in critical industry issues on sugar marketing, production costs, trade and market access and the environmental sustainability of the industry and its connections to the Great Barrier Reef.

Dan led the Queensland Farmers' Federation since 2009, joining the Federation after a decade-long stint driving policy and grower services with Cotton Australia in Queensland. During this time, Dan worked in advocacy roles in Queensland and NSW, as well as holding grower services and management positions. He was heavily involved in numerous policy negotiations with government around issues such as land and water management and land access frameworks, vegetation management, natural disaster response, industry management of reef water quality protection and electricity prices and policy.

Dan was instrumental in the cotton industry's voluntary BMP program which is now looked upon as one of the leading agricultural BMP systems in Australia.

Originally from a mixed farming enterprise near Pittsworth on the Darling Downs, Dan has spent a career across a broad ambit of roles in the agricultural sector. He has a formal background in applied science, rural systems management, and before taking on industry focused positions, he worked in extension and research roles in the public sector.

Associate Professor Leanne Wiseman, Griffith Law School, Griffith University

Session 4: The impacts of digital technologies on the rural workforce

Ella Shannon, Director, AgDraft

Dr Kim Houghton, General Manager Research and Policy, Regional Australia Institute

Dr Kim Houghton is General Manager Policy and Research with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI). Kim plays a leading role in the RAI's work on innovation and entrepreneurship, and on regional and local economic development strategies. Kim has 20 years' experience working on business and economic development in towns, cities and regions across Australia and overseas.

Kim has considerable experience in the private sector as well as in the public sector and academia. Before joining the RAI Kim ran a consulting company (Strategic Economic Solutions) as well as holding positions with the Hornery Institute (Community Development Manager) and Elton Consulting (Associate Director). Kim is currently Adjunct Associate Professor with the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra.  

Professor Bronwyn Harch, Executive Director of the Institute for Future Environments and Professor of Applied Statistical Science, QUT, Brisbane

Professor Bronwyn Harch leads transdisciplinary research efforts - where industry, government and the community co-develop with QUT researchers' initiatives that address global challenges that build a strong Australia with a competitive economy.

Professor Harch is an applied statistician with 21 year's experience undertaking research focused on the statistical design of landscape-scale sampling protocols and monitoring programs, as well as the statistical modelling of complex systems. Her "big data" research has mainly been applied at the nexus of agricultural and environmental systems.

Fiona Simson, President, National Farmers' Federation

Fiona Simson is a farmer from the Liverpool Plains in NSW where she, husband Ed and family run a mixed farming enterprise including broad acre farming and breeding commercial poll Hereford cattle.

With tertiary business education and skills, Fiona's passion for local food production and the growth and sustainability of rural and regional Australia led to a career in local government as an elected Councillor in Liverpool Plains Shire Council and her appointment to the NSW Farmers Executive Council in 2008. In 2011, she became the first woman President of the Association, retaining that position for a full four year term.

Passionate about the power of a unified voice for agriculture, Fiona also believes in its role in a strong and vibrant future for regional Australia.

Fiona sits on the Board of NRMA (NSW), the Australian Made Campaign Ltd, AgStewardship Australia and the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund.

Fiona was appointed as a Director of the National Farmers' Federation on 3 November 2011, Vice President on 19 November 2014 and elected President on 24 November 2016.

Dinner Speaker

Lisa Prassack, Agri Food Innovation Expert and Data Strategy Consultant, Prassack Advisors

Lisa Prassack is on a mission to help leading agriculture companies and entrepreneurs collaborate to deliver the "digital farm of the future". With over 20 years in emerging technology, Lisa appreciates, and shares with listeners, that digital farming is rapidly evolving the data landscape and confounding the data scientists with limited farm knowledge. This is due to the complexity of farm data that can (equipment, crop, land prep) and cannot (weather, pests, commodity prices) be controlled. Digital agriculture is evolving, and will be for every farm. Lisa works with entrepreneurs, CEOs, boards of directors, investors and leading technology and agriculture companies to drive strategic solutions and business models that work across the global food supply chain. Lisa has held leadership roles with venture start-ups; private equity holdings and corporations including Booz & Co, DoubleClick, GE, HP, Lexmark and Trimble.

Lisa received her B.S. in Computer Science from Penn State and attended the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. A highly popular speaker on innovation and technology, Lisa has presented at conferences and events around the globe. Learn more about Lisa and her team at www.prassackadvisors.com


Session 5: Traceability and provenance – Will digital technologies help to sell agricultural produce with confidence and will farmers see the benefit?

Dr Mike Briers AO, Chief Executive Officer, Food Agility, University of Technology, Sydney

Mike was named in the Knowledge Nation 100 as Australia's chief evangelist for big data and the internet of things (IoT) and appointed Australia's first Industry Professor of IoT at UTS. He is currently the CEO of the Knowledge Economy Institute, an IoT innovation hub, and leads the FoodAgility.com consortium to empower Australia's food industry to grow its comparative advantage through digital transformation.

Mike is a Co-Founder and Director of the Internet of Things Alliance Australia and Hypercat Australia.

Mike's pioneering efforts in fintech and e-research led to the global success of SIRCA and the founding of big data company RoZetta, e-research service provider Intersect, and co-founding of Capital Markets CRC and AgTech business, The Yield.

Chris Sounness, Chief Executive Officer, BCG

Chris Sounness is CEO of BCG. He has spent twenty years at the development and extension end of getting innovation and research on the farm. Chris grew up on a family farm in Western Australia. Since 1992 he has worked in the Wimmera Mallee of Victoria. Firstly, in Private Breeding Canola research and then a long stint in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources working with farmers and their advisors to increase uptake of agricultural research particularly through building farmers' knowledge and skills in agronomy and seasonal climate risk.

The underpinning of Chris's communication is always tying back to the principal that the family farm is business, and to be successful needs to ensure that in-season decision-making is about cash flow management, land purchasing is about capital management but underpinning all of this is the realisation that the family component of the family farm is time management and ensuring expectations are shared. In the next few years precision agriculture, the data it creates and the utilisation in decision making both on the farm and all along the supply chain is going to lead to many exciting changes. What they are and how disruptive they will be is in our hands.

Session 6: The connection between digital agriculture and agricultural finance

Bob McKay, Founder and Executive Chairman, AgriDigital

Bob McKay is a well-known grain industry leader and the founder of both Australia's leading independent broker, Agfarm (sold to Ruralco Limited), and first online grain broking and clearing house, Clear Grain (sold to the New Zealand Stock Exchange).

As a sixth generation farmer who continues to farm grain and oilseeds in Warren, NSW, Bob has first-hand knowledge of the needs of growers and unique challenges and opportunities in the agriculture industry. At AgriDigital, Bob leads the finance and investor activities and plays a key role in AgriDigital's product design and development.                   

Samuel Marwood, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Cultivate Farms

Sam Marwood resigned from his stable, 12-year long Victorian government job in environmental policy in 2015 to start two environment-focused social enterprises.

Cultivate Farms and Edge Pledge, are now building momentum to make significant change for agriculture in regional Australia, and for wildlife on the brink of extinction respectively. The drive behind both of these businesses is his desire to connect people back to the land.

Edge Pledge raises money to help get wildlife off the brink of extinction. It is a fun and interactive web app that helps you pick challenges for yourself and your friends using their world first challenge generator and voting process.

Cultivate Farms matches young farming families with investors to own and operate a farm together. Sam grew up on a dairy farm, and understands the frustration of so many young people who want to farm, but can't afford to own a multi-million dollar farm.

Craig Heraghty, National Agribusiness Leader, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sydney, Australia

With over 17 years at PwC, Craig Heraghty is the leader of PwC Australia's Agribusiness industry group.

Raised in the regional New South Wales town of Parkes, in the middle of eastern Australia's grain belt, Craig has a passion and strong family connection to rural Australia and agriculture.

As the national agribusiness leader, Craig assists clients and client teams across all the businesses within the firm, with over 400 agribusiness specialists across Australia. Globally, Craig regularly connects and works with agribusiness leaders in other PwC offices across the world.

PwC's clients range from family owned and operated farming businesses, to the largest commodity traders and retailers in the world, state and federal governments and agencies, through to the United Nations. 

Michael Whitehead, Head of Agribusiness Insights, ANZ Client Insights and Solutions, ANZ Banking Group Ltd  
Session 7: Is the agriculture sector 'investment ready' for digital products and services?

Jock Graham, 2015 Nuffield Australia Farming Scholar

Sean Starling, General Manager - Research, Development and Innovation, Meat & Livestock Australia 
Michael Dean, Co-Founder and CIO, Agfunder
Ron Meeusen, Managing Director, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures
Session 8: Closing panel – The global context

Dr Sjaak Wolfert, Senior Scientist Information Management and ICT in Agri-Food, Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands                   

Michael Dean, Co-Founder and CIO, Agfunder
Lisa Prassack, Agri Food Innovation Expert and Data Strategy Consultant, Prassack Advisors