Burkes named 2019 SunRice Grower of the Year

Jerilderie, NSW growers Peter and Renee Burke have taken out the SunRice Grower of the Year award, impressing the judges with their outstanding agronomic and business management.

 The Burkes own and operate a 1280-hectare (ha) irrigation farm and their management is marked by industry-leading workplace health and safety; and water use efficiency driven by recycling, on-farm storage and a move to drill sowing.

 “In a difficult year, Peter and Renee Burke have achieved exceptional production results, including an average C19 rice yield of 13t/ha which was 33% above the Murray Valley industry average,” Rice Extension Coordinator Troy Mauger said.

 The SunRice Grower of the Year Award recognises innovation, new technology and latest research outcomes adopted in the rice industry. The recipient of this award must showcase high yields and high water use efficiency grown in a sustainable way with successful adoption of new technology and innovation.

 SunRice Chairman and rice grower Laurie Arthur commended the Burkes, and all of the finalists, saying the company prided itself on innovation, adaptability and longevity, so supporting the Award was a natural fit.

 “The SunRice Grower of the Year Award recognises innovation, new technology and latest research outcomes adopted in the Australian rice industry,” Mr Arthur said.

 “Innovation has enabled SunRice to become one of the world’s largest rice food companies and one of Australia’s leading branded food exporters so we are proud to be associated with an award that also rewards excellence at the start of the supply chain, our growers.”

 Ms Groat said all finalists were to be commended on their high calibre farming practices, reflected in the closeness of the judges scoring.


Brett and Louise Turner scooped The Rice Extension Highest Yield for C19, achieving exceptional results in a challenging year.

 “Brett and Louise have taken out the award with an astounding 15.4t/ha of Reiziq which was 31% above industry average for the Murrumbidgee and the highest rice grain yield for C19 season” said Mr Mauger.

SunRice Chairman Laurie Arthur, SunRice Grower of the Year Renee & Peter Burke (left), Highest Yield Award winners Louise & Brett Turner (middle) and SunRice Grower of the Year Judges Harry Kooloos, Michele Groat and John Fowler (right).


“Special mentions also go to Robert and April Andreazza: Doongara yield of 14,0t/ha which was the highest long grain C19 yield and performed 26% above the MIA industry average and is the highest Doongara yield on record.

 “Shane and Damian Mannes: Reiziq yield of 12.6t/ha which was the highest medium grain yield in the CIA and 25% above the CIA industry average,” said Mr Mauger.


Alan Walsh was named RiceGrowers Association Honorary Councillor marking a notable office-bearing career that began when he joined RGA in 1985 and culminated in 15 years as SunRice Director.

 He has held roles including: Deni Branch Vice President 1993-1997; Deni Branch Secretary 1999-2012; Deni Branch Seed Committee Alternate 1994-2001; Central Executive Delegate 1997-2013; RGA Murray Water Committee 1997-2013; RGA Environment Working Group 2005-2013; RGA Environment Committee 2000-2002; RGA Conservation Committee 1998-2000; and Rice Environmental Policy Advisory Group 2003-2013.

 Mr Walsh has also been Chairman of Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL), Director of Riviana Foods and Director of Solomons Rice Company.

 Graeme Kruger, the Rice Growers Association said Alan’s passion and dedication to the rice industry is second to none.

 “His commitment to his roles and lateral thinking has been instrumental to his successful contributions to the rice industry and we are all truly indebted to Alan and his strong contribution over his career,” Mr Kruger said.


The 2019 Rice Industry Awards are proudly supported by SunRice, Rice Extension, the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, Port of Melbourne, Corteva Agriscience, AgriFutures Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Rice Marketing Board for the State of NSW, Yenda Producers Cooperative and Deakin University.

 The Awards were presented at the Rice Growers’ Association of Australia conference in Corowa, NSW on 1 August.

 A field day will be held at the Burkes’ farm on 12 December. For more information, visit the Rice Extension website.

 Rice Extension is funded by rice growers and the Australian Government through AgriFutures Australia.  Rice Extension supports the adoption of innovation and research and development outcomes in the Australian rice industry.