Leader in sorghum research wins Award

17 June 2021

Professor David Jordan’s outstanding dedication to the Australian grains industry and the advancement of sorghum as a versatile and profitable crop has been recognised this year with his win of the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2020-21 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research.

Professor David Jordan

Prof Jordan’s impact on the sorghum industry both within Australia and globally, through his leadership at the Hermitage Research Facility in Warwick, south-east Queensland, is outstanding and he has been key to productivity gains made by the Australian sorghum industry.

Underpinning this success is Prof Jordan’s understanding of the needs of both the seed industry and growers and addressing these needs with integrated research—drawing on plant physiology, molecular biology and entomology.

“Sorghum is an amazing plant with genetic variation for almost any trait you can imagine,” Prof Jordan said.

“A key part of my work has been to identify lines with important traits from sorghum lines from around the world and introduce them to sorghum suited to Australian conditions.

“Sorghum underpins cropping systems in much of the northern grains belt because of its reliability driven by its relatively low costs of production and its tolerance of heat and moisture stress. Genetic material from our breeding program has, over the last 20 years, been incorporated into every hybrid sorghum crop in Australia and is used in many countries in the world where sorghum is grown.

Prof Dave Jordan
Professor David Jordan outstanding in his field. 

“We have seen the range of environments where sorghum is grown increase, and I’d like to think it has something to do with the research and development we’re doing in making the crop more accessible and viable for farmers.

“Demand for sorghum, and feed grain more broadly, continues to grow and this combined with new innovative uses of sorghum, in food and beer, is exciting for my team to see and is a great incentive for farmers for crop uptake.”

Ben White, General Manager of Research at Kondinin Group, said Prof Jordan’s research was yielding impressive results for sorghum growers and demonstrated the important role R&D plays in Australian agriculture.

“During 2017, the University of Queensland’s Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation reported that over the 20 years of Prof Jordan’s sorghum breeding program, an economic analysis of the outcomes showed they were taking the $78.4 million investment into R&D and delivering a gross gain of $696.5 million to Australian sorghum growers,” Ben said.

Professor David Jordan, Warwick QLD

“That equates to a cost benefit of nearly $9 dollars return for every $1 invested by research funders.

“This is a significant result for Australian grain growers and one that Prof Jordan should be immensely proud of.”

In recent years Prof Jordan has expanded his work to lead projects focused on improving the lives of resource-poor farmers in Africa that rely on sorghum.

His expertise has led to multi-million-dollar projects with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate and improve plant breeding programs in developing economies in Africa and Asia, multiple international collaboration to improve sorghum productivity under drought conditions and large international project to capture the benefits of hybrid vigour in crops.

Prof David Jordan (right) presented with the Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research for his world-leading R&D into sorghum pre-breeding. He is presented the award by David Littleproud MP (Member for Maranoa, advocate for rural communities. Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management). 

The 2020-21 Awards are supported by Platinum Sponsors WFI; Award Sponsors McDonald's Australia, AgriFutures Australia, Corteva Agriscience, Telstra and New Holland; Industry Supporters the National Farmers’ Federation, AgSafe, Goldacres and Blundstone; Leadership Program supporter the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources; and Media Partner RM William’s OUTback. For more information on the Awards, please visit www.farmeroftheyear.com.au 

View full list of 2021 Farmer of the Year winners 

Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research: Professor David Jordan, Warwick Queensland.  
The recipient of the 2020-21 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research is Professor David Jordan, a key player in the field of sorghum research and currently leading the sorghum pre-breeding program at the Hermitage Research Facility in Warwick, south-east Queensland.

Contact: Professor David Jordan, Professorial Research Fellow, Centre for Crop Science,  Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, T: +61 7 4542 6722, M. 0429 457 846 E: david.jordan@uq.edu.au

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.