Dr Mike Ewing
Mike Ewing is to be awarded the 2017 Medal of the AW Howard Memorial Trust for his personal research and national leadership in the development and integration of pasture legumes in farming systems.
Mike is currently deputy chair of the Western Panel of the Grains R&D Corporation and a member of the Crawford Fund’s WA Committee following his retirement from Department of Food and Agriculture Western Australia (DAFWA) in 2013.
Mike began his career in 1972 with DAFWA at Geraldton, WA. From 1977-80 he was agronomist and then Officer-in-Charge of the Department’s WA Advisory Group with the Jefara Plains Authority in Libya, where he worked on the broad-scale establishment and integration of annual medics in dryland cropping systems. Subsequently, as Research Leader at Merredin Dryland Research Institute, WA his personal and collaborative research on annual medics underpinned the development and uptake of cultivars which were subsequently sown on more than one million hectares. Together with David Morrison, Ross Kingwell and David Pannell in 1983 he was co-initiator of the multi-disciplinary, whole-farm bio-economic model known as MIDAS (Model of an Integrated Dryland Agricultural System). He remained engaged with it through more than 25 years of development and use.
In 1992 Mike became Principal Researcher (Pastures) in the Department and subsequently became leader of the Department’s pasture improvement program. From mid-1992 for almost twenty years he was seconded to senior roles and led national collaborative research initiatives in three Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) in succession: Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA), 1992-99; CRC for Plant-Based Management of Dryland Salinity, 2001-07; and Future Farm Industries CRC, 2007-10.
Most of Mike’s CRC-based activities were team-based and collaborative in nature. During the last 25 years, groups led by Mike have undertaken intensive evaluation of pasture plant genetic resources across southern Australia (more than 150 annual and perennial species from more than 40 genera) leading to domestication of new species and selection of new cultivars. At least a dozen pasture plant species and cultivars have been developed and released, with several more in the pipeline, enhancing the flexibility, profitability and sustainability of mixed crop/livestock farming systems. Mike’s role as leader and mentor was pivotal to this success.