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Andrea Hills

Research Officer, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Esperance, WA.

Andrea is a research officer working on broadacre plant pathology in the south-eastern district of the Western Australian wheatbelt, based in Esperance. Andrea’s experience combines a background in barley agronomy research and farming systems extension and communication. Having first started as a development officer in what was the WA Department of Agriculture, she gained important communication and extension skills while working across the full suite of crops grown in WA dryland farming systems.

As a research officer for cereal and oilseed pathology, Andrea runs a regional trial program via two GRDC projects that address national, state and regional disease issues. This includes collaborative work with universities, industry and interstate colleagues. Nationally she represents WA on the extensionAUSTM Field Crop Diseases Leadership Team. In addition to field trials in DPIRD’s cereal pathology project, Andrea leads an innovative project using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to map rhizoctonia root rot.  These maps are used to investigate how normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) paddock images can be used to generate (VR) paddock maps to ameliorate rhizoctonia at sowing. Disease surveillance is also an important part of crop pathology and her contributions ensure growers in the region have up to date knowledge of which disease pathotypes (including fungicide resistant types) are present.

Communication and extension of research to colleagues and growers is an important aspect of Andrea’s role at DPIRD and she regularly speaks to growers and industry via Crop Updates, radio, written articles and field walks.

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