A unique
collaboration

SoilCQuest 2031 is a unique collaboration of farmers, agronomists, agro-ecologists, agricultural and soil scientists, educators, business, communication, and extension specialists.

The thread connecting our diverse backgrounds and expertise is a deep respect for the farming profession and the agricultural industry. We understand daily farm life and culture and how it drives decisions and change on the ground.

Our multidisciplinary team of Board Directors, Staff, and Research Committee Members have extensive experience across the agricultural industry, academia, community, and government.

 

Team

Guy Webb

Founder & Chair

Guy is an agronomist with a deep understanding of soil carbon and health, microbiology and sustainable land management. He has worked to develop microbial inoculums and bio-fertilisers throughout his career with the focus on improving soil health and soil carbon levels in broad-acre cropping. Guy has over a decade of experience designing functional and practical microbial packages within dryland broadacre systems for semi-arid environments.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Resource and Environmental Management and has been involved in horticultural agronomy predominantly in grapes and citrus. Guy has been the driving force behind the organisation since its inception in 2012 and has brought together a cohesive and committed team to work towards SoilCQuest’s vision.

Mick Wettenhall

Founder & Director

Mick is an experienced grazier and grains and cotton farmer on the Macquarie River near Trangie. He is a skilled farming practitioner and an early adopter of innovative farming techniques. He is a passionate believer that agriculture has a major role to play not only in food security but also in sustainable environmental management and climate change mitigation. Michael brings invaluable practical on-the-ground experience and a common sense perspective to SoilCQuest.

Brondwen MacLean

Deputy Chair

Brondwen has extensive experience in the governance and management of federal Government entities and Research and Development Corporations.  She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has been a mentor for programs including the National Farmers’ Federation’s Diversity in Agricultural Leadership. Brondwen has spent the last 25 years working in the Australian agricultural sector, including 20+ years with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). As General Manager, Research Programs, she oversaw GRDC’s investment in farming systems and agronomy, natural resource management, crop protection, capacity and capability building.  Prior to this, Brondwen was responsible for GRDC’s investment in all breeding programs. She also served as Executive Manager on all of GRDC’s Regional Panels. Since retiring from executive roles in 2019, Brondwen has consulted for the CRC for Developing Northern Australia, AgriFutures Australia, the southern NSW Drought Innovation Hub and undertaken company governance and structural reviews. She is currently a director of Riverine Plains and Rice Breeding Australia.

Alison Kirk

Alison Kirk

Director

Alison was appointed to the SoilCQuest Board in July 2023. She is an experienced director with governance and executive management experience in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors. Alison brings to the board strong financial, risk management and governance skills together with deep experience in finance, agriculture, infrastructure, policy and industry advocacy, developed from her board and leadership roles with the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, corporates Westpac, HSBC, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, NSW Government and private consulting. Alison is a collaborative and engaging leader, sought-after mentor and strategic advisor. She has a Bachelor of Business, Master of Business Administration and is a graduate of Australia Institute of Company Directors.

Alison Kirk

Andrew Bruem

Chief Executive Officer

​​Andrew has more than 25 years leadership experience as a SME business owner, Managing Director and General Manager, including as a third-generation agribusiness owner operator in Central West NSW. He brings in-depth knowledge of governance, finance, strategy development, marketing and entrepreneurship from the agribusiness, not-for-profit and service sectors. Andrew holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Science and has a passion to invoke climate solutions driven by agriculture, harnessing the impetus of resilient farm businesses as positive land custodians.

andrew@soilcquest.org.au

0427 534 117

Alison Kirk

Adam O’Toole

R&D Agronomist

Adam is a soil scientist and communicator passionate about improving soil quality and finding practical solutions for farmers. He obtained his PhD in Soil Science and Agronomy from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in 2021, where he researched the effects of biochar on agriculture and the environment. He has 13 years of experience in agricultural research and communication with farmers and advisory services whilst working at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy. In 2023, Adam returned to Australia to help restore and enhance Australian landscapes. He is the Chair of Standards and Certification of Working Group for the Australian and New Zealand Biochar Industry Group and has extensive experience in the production and use of biochar in agriculture. Adam also holds a Masters in International Environment Studies and a Bachelor of Business (Communication).

Alison Kirk

Erika Van Schellebeck

Education & Engagement

Erika has 20+ years of experience in adult environmental education and community & stakeholder engagement in state & local government and the not-for-profit sector. A city kid who loved school holidays on her grandparents’ cattle and grain farms, she believes regenerative agriculture holds the key to the resilience of farming communities, and is passionate about agriculture as a climate solution. She is a trained Climate Reality Leader and has been on the Executive Committee of Environmental Education NSW, a chapter of the Australian Association for Environmental Education, since 2019. Erika holds a Bachelor of Arts in Resource and Environmental Management, a Certificate II in Bushland Regeneration, a Postgraduate Certificate in Regenerative Agriculture and a Micro-Credential in Applying Behavioural Science to Create Change.

Alison Kirk

Jen Ringbauer

Research Assistant

After 20+ years of providing education in schools and the not-for-profit sector, Jen moved to a property to grow and produce chemical and contaminant-free food and fibre for her family and community. This led to a keen desire to know more about improving productivity whilst enhancing ecosystem function and biodiversity with minimal intervention and input. Recently completing a Bachelor of Science in Regenerative Agriculture, Jen also holds a Diploma of Managing Holistically, B. Arts (Musicology/ Philosophy), and Dip. Ed. (Music). Jen applies her analytical skills to find the theories, methods and practices in emerging climate solutions for agriculture.

Alison Kirk

Sophie Lountain

Programs & Communications

Sophie’s involvement in agriculture began during her studies in Nutrition, where she became interested in agricultural production and food security challenges. This interest led her to pursue a Bachelor of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security and a Master’s degree in Applied Economics, during which she contributed to an agricultural development project with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). She began working with SoilCQuest during this time and now balances her work alongside her PhD research, where she explores women’s empowerment in agriculture. Sophie is an Executive Committee Member of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (SA) and the Crawford Fund (SA), as well as the SA Representative for the Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID) Network.

Team

Guy Webb

Founder & Chair
read more

Guy is an agronomist with a deep understanding of soil carbon and health, microbiology and sustainable land management. He has worked to develop microbial inoculums and bio-fertilisers throughout his career with the focus on improving soil health and soil carbon levels in broad-acre cropping. Guy has over a decade of experience designing functional and practical microbial packages within dryland broadacre systems for semi-arid environments.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Resource and Environmental Management and has been involved in horticultural agronomy predominantly in grapes and citrus. Guy has been the driving force behind the organisation since its inception in 2012 and has brought together a cohesive and committed team to work towards SoilCQuest’s vision.

Mick Wettenhall

Founder & Director
read more

Mick is an experienced grazier and grains and cotton farmer on the Macquarie River near Trangie. He is a skilled farming practitioner and an early adopter of innovative farming techniques. He is a passionate believer that agriculture has a major role to play not only in food security but also in sustainable environmental management and climate change mitigation. Michael brings invaluable practical on-the-ground experience and a common sense perspective to SoilCQuest.

Brondwen MacLean

Deputy Chair
read more

Brondwen has extensive experience in the governance and management of federal Government entities and Research & Development Corporations.  She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has been a mentor for programs including the National Farmers’ Federation’s Diversity in Agricultural Leadership. Brondwen has spent the last 25 years working in the Australian agricultural sector including 20+ years with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). As General Manager, Research Programs she oversaw GRDC’s investment in farming systems and agronomy, natural resource management, crop protection, capacity and capability building.  Prior to this Brondwen was responsible for GRDC’s investment in all breeding programs. She also served as Executive Manager on all GRDC’s Regional Panels. Since retiring from executive roles in 2019, Brondwen has consulted for the CRC for Developing Northern Australia, AgriFutures Australia, the southern NSW Drought Innovation Hub and undertaken company governance and structural reviews. She is currently a director of Riverine Plains and Rice Breeding Australia.

Alison Kirk

Alison Kirk

Director
read more

Alison was appointed to the SoilCQuest Board in July 2023.  She is an experienced director with governance and executive management experience in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Alison brings to the board strong financial, risk management and governance skills together with deep experience in finance, agriculture, infrastructure, policy and industry advocacy, developed from her board and leadership roles with Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, corporates Westpac, HSBC, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, NSW Government and private consulting.

Alison is a collaborative and engaging leader, sought after mentor and strategic advisor. She has a Bachelor of Business, Master of Business Administration and is a graduate of Australia Institute of Company Directors.

Alison Kirk

Andrew Bruem

Chief Executive Officer
read more

​​Andrew has more than 25 years leadership experience as a SME business owner, Managing Director and General Manager, including as a third-generation agribusiness owner operator in Central West NSW. He brings in-depth knowledge of governance, finance, strategy development, marketing and entrepreneurship from the agribusiness, not-for-profit and service sectors. Andrew holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Science and has a passion to invoke climate solutions driven by agriculture, harnessing the impetus of resilient farm businesses as positive land custodians.

andrew@soilcquest.org.au

0427 534 117

Alison Kirk

Adam O’Toole

R&D Agronomist
read more

Adam is a soil scientist and communicator who is passionate about improving soil quality and finding agronomic solutions for farmers. He holds a doctorate in soil science from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences where he did his thesis on the agronomic and environmental effects of biochar. After working over a decade with soil and agronomic research in Norway, Adam has returned home to his roots in Australia to help in the grand task of restoring and improving Australian landscapes.

Alison Kirk

Erika Van Schellebeck

Education & Engagement
read more

Erika has 20+ years of experience in community & stakeholder engagement, sustainability education and strategic planning in state and local government and the not-for-profit sector. A city kid who loved school holidays on her grandparents’ cattle & wheat farms, she believes regenerative agriculture holds the key to the resilience of farming communities and is passionate about agriculture as a climate solution. She is a trained Climate Reality Leader and sits on the Executive Committee of the Australian Association for Environmental Education, NSW Chapter. Erika holds a Bachelor of Arts in Resource and Environmental Management, a Certificate II in Bushland Regeneration and a Postgraduate Certificate in Regenerative Agriculture from Southern Cross University.

Alison Kirk

Jen Ringbauer

Research Assistant
read more

After 20+ years of providing education in schools and the not-for-profit sector, Jen moved to a property to grow and produce chemical and contaminant free food and fibre for her family and community. This led to a keen desire to know more about improving productivity whilst enhancing ecosystem function and biodiversity with minimal intervention and input. Recently completing a Bachelor of Science in Regenerative Agriculture, Jen also holds a Diploma of Managing Holistically, B. Arts (Musicology/ Philosophy), and Dip. Ed. (Music). Jen applies her analytical skills to find the theories, methods and practices in emerging climate solutions for agriculture.

Alison Kirk

Sophie Lountain

Communications
read more

Sophie has a background in nutrition, food security and agriculture for development. She is currently completing her PhD at the University of South Australia, with her research spanning economics focusing on food security, water policy, and the interface between gender and resources. Sophie is a self-taught graphic designer and enjoys combining two of her greatest passions in this role- creativity and saving the planet.

Our Research Committee

Daniela Carnovale

Chair

Dr Daniela Carnovale PhD, has a passion for working with farmers to increase soil health & function, with a particular interest in soil biology & plant soil interactions as ways to increase soil carbon. She has 15 years of experience in the private sector, non-government organisations, government & academia and is a strong advocate for science communication. Daniela holds an Honours degree in Resource and Environmental Management and a PhD in the effects of agricultural restoration (shelterbelts) on soil biotic communities.

David Hardwick

Educator & Consultant

David is an Agroecologist with over 20 years of experience in rural landscapes, farming and food systems. He worked in community development and horticulture before completing a dairy traineeship on an organic dairy in NSW. Since then, he has had a wide-ranging career in management and technical roles, including Landcare extension, agronomy, soils, agribusiness, bio fertiliser R&D and manufacturing, organics, training, and consulting positions. David has a Bachelor of Ecological Agriculture, a Diploma in Agribusiness, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and Certificates of Grazing Land Management and Natural Sequence Farming. He teaches soils, regenerative agriculture, farm planning and agroecology at TAFE NSW. David’s passion is agroecology and empowering farmers with knowledge and skills that make a difference.

Edward Scott

Soil Scientist

Edward is a Soil Scientist who applies his technical understanding of soils’ critical role in production. He specialises in interpreting and assessing soil, plant and water information and developing management strategies around key soil-to-plant relationships. Edward applies up-to-date scientific research with integrated ag-tech solutions for ongoing soil monitoring. Edward has a Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Science) in Land Management and Soil Conservation, and his passion for improving soil productivity drives Ed to develop land management strategies.

Alison Kirk

Jade Killoran

Consultant

Jade is an independent advisor and researcher, conducting paddock scale research projects on multispecies pastures/cover crops on Victorian livestock farms. Jade has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours-First Class), where she researched multispecies cover cropping in the Victorian high rainfall zone. Jade loves being out and about on-farm, identifying the effects of multispecies forage adoption on grazing systems, and supporting farmers with practical advice.

Alison Kirk

Joel Williams

Educator & Consultant

Joel Williams is an independent plant and soil health educator and consultant based in Canada. Joel has worked throughout Australia, UK and Canada, and he consults with farmers worldwide, implementing strategies to optimise fertiliser inputs, improve soil health and increase biodiversity within agroecosystems. Joel has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Queensland and a Masters of Science in Food Policy from City, University of London.

Alison Kirk

Justin Borevitz

Professor

Justin Borevitz obtained his PhD in 2002 from the University of California at San Diego with Joanne Chory dissecting the genetic basis of adaptive traits and environmental response in model plants. He performed postdoctoral research with Joseph Ecker (2002-2004) at the Salk Institute, mapping plant functional genomic diversity. From 2004 until 2011, he was an Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. In 2012, Justin moved to the Australian National University and became Professor in 2014. His current work within the Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology uses Landscape Genomics to select the gene variants underlying adaptation to shifting climates and soils to restore global crops and woodlands.

Our Research Committee

Daniela Carnovale

Chair
read more

Dr Daniela Carnovale PhD, has a passion for working with farmers to increase soil health & function, with a particular interest in soil biology & plant soil interactions as ways to increase soil carbon. She has 15 years of experience in the private sector, non-government organisations, government & academia and is a strong advocate for science communication. Daniela holds an Honours degree in Resource and Environmental Management and a PhD in the effects of agricultural restoration (shelterbelts) on soil biotic communities.

David Hardwick

Educator & Consultant
read more

David is an Agroecologist with over 20 years of experience in rural landscapes, farming and food systems. He worked in community development and horticulture before completing a dairy traineeship on an organic dairy in NSW. Since then, he has had a wide-ranging career in management and technical roles, including Landcare extension, agronomy, soils, agribusiness, bio fertiliser R&D and manufacturing, organics, training, and consulting positions. David has a Bachelor of Ecological Agriculture, a Diploma in Agribusiness, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and Certificates of Grazing Land Management and Natural Sequence Farming. He teaches soils, regenerative agriculture, farm planning and agroecology at TAFE NSW. David’s passion is agroecology and empowering farmers with knowledge and skills that make a difference.

Edward Scott

Soil Scientist
read more

Edward is a Soil Scientist who applies his technical understanding of soils’ critical role in production. He specialises in interpreting and assessing soil, plant and water information and developing management strategies around key soil-to-plant relationships. Edward applies up-to-date scientific research with integrated ag-tech solutions for ongoing soil monitoring. Edward has a Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Science) in Land Management and Soil Conservation, and his passion for improving soil productivity drives Ed to develop land management strategies.

 
Alison Kirk

Jade Killoran

Consultant
read more

Jade is an independent advisor and researcher, conducting paddock scale research projects on multispecies pastures/cover crops on Victorian livestock farms. Jade has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours-First Class), where she researched multispecies cover cropping in the Victorian high rainfall zone. Jade loves being out and about on-farm, identifying the effects of multispecies forage adoption on grazing systems, and supporting farmers with practical advice.

Alison Kirk

Joel Williams

Educator & Consultant
read more

Joel Williams is an independent plant and soil health educator and consultant based in Canada. Joel has worked throughout Australia, UK and Canada, and he consults with farmers worldwide, implementing strategies to optimise fertiliser inputs, improve soil health and increase biodiversity within agroecosystems. Joel has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Queensland and a Masters of Science in Food Policy from City, University of London.

Alison Kirk

Justin Borevitz

Professor
read more

Justin Borevitz obtained his PhD in 2002 from the University of California at San Diego with Joanne Chory dissecting the genetic basis of adaptive traits and environmental response in model plants. He performed postdoctoral research with Joseph Ecker (2002-2004) at the Salk Institute, mapping plant functional genomic diversity. From 2004 until 2011, he was an Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. In 2012, Justin moved to the Australian National University and became Professor in 2014. His current work within the Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology uses Landscape Genomics to select the gene variants underlying adaptation to shifting climates and soils to restore global crops and woodlands.