Gus takes a grower’s perspective for problem solving
“When we’re doing demonstrations, I like to make them as realistic as possible, but also tie in other factors such as varietal choice or sowing times There are many other contributing factors to disease control rather than just applying a fungicide.” Gus MacLennan, Bayer Technical Advisor, NSW
Gus grew up on a small, mixed horticulture property in Mildura, Victoria, but it wasn’t until after high school that his interest in agriculture really sparked.
He spent time working as a farm assistant at Rice Research Australia, which is when he developed an interest in broadacre agriculture.
After completing an agricultural science degree at Melbourne University, Gus went on a working holiday to America.
He worked and travelled with his USA-based family for six months, working on their farm for harvest of corn and soybean crops.
“It solidified my interest in agriculture, as well as giving me time to focus on exactly what I wanted to do career-wise when I returned home,” Gus said.“A few months ago as part of a study tour, we went to the US and reconnected with the same family who I worked for all those years ago, and showed a group of Australian farmers through their farm.”
When Gus returned to Australia, he interviewed for a number of roles in both agricultural research and agronomy, and during the process he realised his passion lay in the research sector.
This led him to his first role, as a Research and Development Officer with Nufarm, where he stayed on for six-and-a-half years, based at Wagga Wagga.
He then moved into the position of Business Development Manager, which he did for a further two-and-a-half years.
The opportunity then arose to join Bayer as a Technical Advisor.
“The role itself was similar to what I was already doing, but I saw more opportunities with an increased focus on research and development,” Angus said.
“I could see the role was something that was going to keep me interested for the longer term, which it has and continues to do.”
Gus has been with the company for six-and-a-half years in his current role, based at Junee, 40 km north of Wagga Wagga, where he lives with his wife, Alexandra, and their two sons, Finn (four) and Hugo (two).
He said the flexibility of his role allowed him to spend maximum time with his family and for hobbies such as fishing and scuba diving.
His role as Technical Advisor varies from year to year according to the company’s focus and the lifecycle stage of products, but can include educating internal staff on the latest product developments, conducting trials and training packages for agronomists, or facilitating product extension and knowledge transfer through grower demonstrations.
From March through to October, Gus will spend three to four days per week in the field, often spraying and assessing various trials and demonstration sites that he has established throughout the region.
“I like solving problems and the way I choose to go about that is looking at it from the growers’ perspective and not just focusing on the product,” Gus said.
“When we’re doing demonstrations, I like to make them as realistic as possible, but also tie in other factors such as varietal choice or sowing times, there are many other contributing factors to disease control rather than just applying a fungicide."
“There are other things that can be done to reduce risk and by incorporating those factors, you offer a more well-rounded solution to the grower and offer more longevity to the solution.”
Gus joined Bayer at a particularly exciting time, in the year leading up to the launch of the company’s ryegrass herbicide, Sakura®.
He said he was involved in conducting Sakura pre-launch trials and demonstrations, and ramping up the education phase in preparation for the launch.
“To see the results coming out with Sakura was both exciting and rewarding, and it created a lot of interest in the product and the company."
“One of the most encouraging aspects of my involvement has been that we’ve seen the difference Sakura has made to growers."
“It’s helped them in so many ways. As well as being such an effective herbicide, it’s also raised awareness around resistance, cultural practices and how herbicides actually work."
“It’s enabled growers to get right on top of annual ryegrass to the point where, for a lot of famers now, ryegrass isn’t public enemy number one anymore"
“Growers now have an arsenal and knowledge of how to control ryegrass effectively.”
While Sakura well and truly lived up to the hype preceding its launch, Gus said one of the more surprising successes for him had come from his involvement with the foliar fungicide, Prosaro®.
He said positioning Prosaro into the canola market, particularly for use on sclerotinia, with such strong results had been extremely rewarding.
“Disease control in canola has become such an important topic for the industry because there is more than just yield at stake and the effectiveness of Prosaro has really drawn us into a position of leadership in this field.” Gus said.
“It’s a time where canola is a very important and profitable crop and it’s worth protecting. Blackleg as well as sclerotinia are more prevalent now than ever before."
“Whilst timing has played into our hands with the success of Prosaro, we’ve also deliberately taken the lead in this segment and plan to continue with that leadership role with new and exciting products that the industry desperately needs.”
Gus said working with Bayer had certainly lived up to his initial expectations and he remained excited about the future of agriculture and continuing to help growers maximise results.
“It’s a great time to be involved in the industry, particularly with an innovative and progressive company like Bayer, and I’m excited about the potential opportunities that lay ahead,” he said.