Our Purpose

The Irrigated Cropping Council (ICC) is driven by irrigation mixed farmers across Northern Victoria and Southern NSW. It also has agribusiness, educational and government members. The role of ICC is to provide research and extension services relevant to the mixed farming sector. We do this through locally based research and via newsletters, field days and technical updates. 

We also manage an irrigated research trial site of some 15ha near Kerang. This trial site is unique in that in enables research into the potential of crop varieties into the irrigated environment. These include, forage species, oaten hay, faba beans, wheat, barley, canola and oats. The trials have produced best management practice for a variety of irrigated crops and have examined, nitrogen use, irrigation scheduling, watering up, time of sowing, as well as advanced agronomic techniques in pushing yield barriers.

ICC also facilitates the Regional Cropping Solutions process for the irrigation zone on behalf of GRDC, and is involved in the GRDC funded grain and graze project. It also runs DAFF funded trials on Nitrous Oxide emissions in cropping and carbon in irrigated stubbles under fertiliser regimes.

Going forward the ICC aims to be a vehicle to further connect those in the irrigated farming community.

Our People

Our Committee is a combination of Irrigated Farmers, Researchers and Agronomists. This blend provides both a diverse approach and a wealth of knowledge.

Rob Fisher (CEO)

Rob Fisher :: CEO  

Rob is a qualified agronomist who has had decades of experience in agriculture.

After a long working stint with the DPI, he then set up an irrigated consultancy firm, specialising in irrigated cropping.

 He has been a board member of the ICC since 2002, and CEO since 2007.

For many years Rob was also the President of the Kerang Football Club and is an avid fisherman.


Michael Hughes (Chairman)

Michael Hughes :: Chairman

Michael owns and operates an irrigation farm in the Denimein Irrigation District, north west of Deniliquin, within the area of operation of Murray Irrigation.

Michael has a strong focus towards a mixed irrigation system focusing on crops including rice, cereals and pasture. He has an intense interest in constantly improving the efficiency of irrigation farming and has been regularly involved in many R&D projects including variety trials, irrigation trials and agronomic techniques.

Michael has strong involvement in irrigation off farm with his present roles being a non-executive directors for Murray Irrigation Ltd, Chairman of the Irrigated Cropping Council and a representative on the newly established Regional Cropping Solutions Committee - Irrigation Zone. 

John Fowler

John Fowler :: Agronomist  


John is the Deniliquin District Agronomist with NSW DPI.  His main expertise is in rice farming systems, winter crops, soils, annual pastures and irrigation.

He is currently involved in the Variety Specific Agronomy Package (VSAP) trials, conducting an irrigated wheat sowing time trial, canola sowing time X seeding rate trial and a wheat row spacing X seeding rate trials.  He is also local coordinator of a National Variety Testing trial for field peas and has involvement in the NVT Irrigated Wheat trials..

One part of his agronomy extension involves his coordination of local rice farming system grower discussion groups. John also conducts winter cropping field days and pre-season meetings in the Deniliquin district.


Ray Thornton

Ray Thornton :: Agriculture and Farm Management  


Ray Thornton has a Diploma of Farm Management from Marcus Oldham and  an Advanced Diploma of Agriculture from Melbourne University.

Ray has been an  irrigated  cropper  since 1968 beginning with  sunflowers. Ray’s operation then progressed to soybeans, maize, wheat, barley, canola and fababeans.

Ray married Karmel and has three adult sons who currently work in other fields.


Jack Hewitt

Jack Hewitt :: Farmer  

John (Jack) Hewitt is married to Karyl and has three kids and two grandchildren to spoil.

For 10 years Jack worked at Barastoc selling and making stockfeed. He then worked as a builder for 11 year with the his father in law before taking to the farm full time in 1996 . Jack’s farm of  610 H/A at Appin runs merino ewes with a fat lamb outcome and half of the property is under flood irrigation.

Currently Jack is focusing on building up the lucerne area of the farm whilst cropping canola, wheat, barley, oats as well as producing fodder of oaten and pasture hay.

Jack is the local C.F.A. fire captain and is involved with land care. He and his wife are key sponsors and committee members of the Kerang football and netball Club and he was also involved in the Loddon Stress River program with the N.C.C.M.A.

Jack was involved in negotiations with NVRIP  ensuring the Appin district would be connected to the irrigation system and he is a firm believer that irrigation is a very important, substantial and environmental industry.


Dale Boyd

Dale Boyd :: DPI Climate Team  

Dale currently works in the climate team of the DPI grains branch and is also the rural recovery coordinator for the Shepparton response division. Now residing in Moama, he has worked in DPI since 1999, was brought up on a farm in Calivil and has a background in irrigated mixed farming. Dale attended Dookie Agricultural college where he learned more about his irrigated farming interest and background.

Recent projects Dale has been involved in include both the double cropping project and the irrigation technology project. Dale is now in the thick of working on his final year of the soil moisture monitoring project in collaboration with NVIRP. He is also working on a project called risk management through soil moisture monitoring,which has focus groups and sites across dryland cropping regions of Victoria.

Recently Dale has moved into more specialised areas including rural recovery work, including 2 flood events, and the locust responses. 


Damian Jones

Damian Jones :: Agronomist

Damian Jones is an irrigated cropping agronomist that previously worked for DPI at Kerang and is now with Agronomic Results.

He has been involved with irrigated trials for 15 years, and works closely with the  Irrigated Cropping Council on the ICC Trial Block at Kerang.

Variety evaluation, irrigation management and grazing cereals has been a focus of the trial work at Kerang.


Graeme Lawerence

Graeme Lawerence :: Farmer  

Graeme has been farming for over 34 years. Initially a dairy farmer, Graeme now operates his business with broad acre and Summer crops.

In the early 1980‘s Graeme was involved in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) program, which saw him spend 12 months in America - 3 months in Kansas at a dairy farm and the remaining 9 months in Illinois, summer cropping- soy beans and corn. After working in summer cropping Graeme decided this was the method of farming for him.

After returning to his home country of Australia Graeme farmed and leased ground around Rochester and Echuca for broad acre and summer cropping, the usual winter crops, corn, sunflowers and soy beans. In 2006 Graeme bought a farm and moved to Boort still maintaining a portion of the share farm in Echuca.

More recently Graeme farmed tomatoes on his new land at Boort under trickle irrigation but the crop was killed in the 2011 floods. Graeme plays an integral role on the Irrigated Cropping Council Committee as the current Treasurer. 


Stuart Hodge

Stuart Hodge :: Farmer

Stuart Hodge is an Irrigated Cropping farmer based at Numurkah in northern Victoria. After running a large-scale Dairying operation for 22 years, Stuart and his wife Kate decided to sell the dairy herd and move into Irrigated cropping in early 2008. 

 Stuart believes passionately in the contribution of irrigation to the Australian Agricultural sector. The significant reduction in production risk that Irrigated Cropping offers the Hodge farming operation has led Stuart to combine leading-edge agronomic advice with aggressive grain marketing techniques that he believes is relevant to all Irrigated Cropping enterprises. Stuart joined the committee of the ICC in October 2011.


Scott Matthews

Scott Matthews :: Farmer

Scott Matthews is a fifth generation irrigated cropping farmer in the Murrabit area, farming with his family for the past 18 years.

The beginning of his farming of running beef cattle soon changed and moved towards intensive irrigating cropping of onions, cauliflower, celery and carrots for seed and also broad acre cropping of rice, maize, wheat, barley, clover and canola for both seed and hay.

He has been involved with trial work pushing irrigated yields and promoting high yields on heavy clay soil under irrigation.

In 2001 Scott joined the VICC and has been a board member ever since.


Craig Reynolds

Craig Reynolds :: Farmer

Craig has been an irrigation cropping farmer for over 21 years and has grown a wide range of crops including wheat, barley, canola, oats, field peas, faba beans, maize, soybeans and sunflowers. He has a range of experience gained from a combination of working and learning from other farmers and research and development, on-farm trial work and observations.

Craig is interested in innovation and striving to advance irrigation management and irrigated cropping. He is currently the Chair of the Shepparton Water Service Committee of Goulburn Murray Water and a member of the GRDC Irrigation Areas Regional Cropping Solutions Committee.


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