Michael Richards announced as the 2019 Ag Excellence Perpetual Award Winner & State Register of Outstanding Individuals Honoured

Michael Richards announced as the 2019 Ag Excellence Perpetual Award Winner & State Register of Outstanding Individuals Honoured

The Ag Excellence Perpetual Award for outstanding service was awarded to Michael Richards, an absolute crowd favourite. Michael has made a substantial and long-lasting contribution to sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources within our State. Some of these achievements have included being instrumental in the formation of the Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils Group in the early 1990’s. This group went on to pioneer the development of the farming systems group model in South Australia. Michael also played a major role in the development of Ag Ex with the aim to support the burgeoning farming systems group network.

Ag Excellence Chair, Leet Wilksch commended Michael on a well-deserved accolade. “Michael exemplifies what it is to ‘go above and beyond’ in his endeavour to grow our industry support and networks. We simply wouldn’t have the structures in place today without the determination and ingenuity of regional advocates like Michael.”

‘Ag Excellence Perpetual Award’ State Register

The Ag Excellence ‘Perpetual Award’ for outstanding contribution to sustainable agriculture was launched in 2017.

2017 Winner


Length of service and commitment to the community:

Bruce Heddle farms with his wife and daughters near Minnipa on the Upper Eyre Peninsula. He has been an active and passionate member of the Upper Eyre Peninsula community for nearly 3 decades.

His official (and always voluntary) positions include the Minnipa Research Centre Foundation, founding and long serving member of the EPARF Board, member of the Minnipa Farm Management committee, member of the SARDI/EPARF Project Research and Review committee, member of the GRDC Profit/Risk committee, member of the GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Network for the Low Rainfall Region.

He is regularly called on by industry participants for his opinion on topical or emerging issues, and still helps shape the direction of research and extension activities.


2018 Winner


Length of service and commitment to the community:

In just 10 years of being in SA, Ruth Sommerville has made a substantial and long-lasting contribution to sustainable Agriculture within the state. Her professional expertise combined with hard work and passion for her industry has resulted in outstanding achievements, particularly for the UNFS, but also for other communities within the Mid and Upper North.

Ruth has instigated, sourced funds and lead many projects that have greatly benefit the communities within these regions economically, environmentally and socially. The Upper North Farming Systems are very proud to have the opportunity to nominate Ruth for this prestigious award from Ag Ex.

Past Nominees


Length of service and commitment to the community:

Bruce Cook has played key roles in agricultural organisations and the community for more than 30 years.

Bruce was a foundation committee member of the YP Alkaline Soils Group (SYP Alkaline Soils Group) when it formed in 1999. Bruce has been active and played key roles in the Minlaton Ag Bureau, United farmers & Graziers and SAFF since the 1980’s. Bruce also assisted the early development of SANTFA writing and publishing their newsletter in their first year of operation.

Farmers from across South Australia have benefitted from Bruce’s practical approach and contribution to improving agricultural practices. Bruce and Audrey Cook’s agricultural skills and community contribution were recognized when they received an “Australian Wheat Board” “Golden Grower Award”.


Length of service and commitment to the community:

Lyn Dohle has been living on Kangaroo Island for just over 30 years. Since the day she arrived she has not stopped working for our community. Some of us get tired just watching her.

She uses her technical skills and knowledge to the advantage of everybody in the agriculture sector.

Her contribution to the agricultural sector is immeasurable. She doesn’t just participate, she leads, one key result is the organisation that is AgKI. She brought together multiple groups and sectors of the agriculture industry, forming them into a single united voice for the primary producers of Kangaroo Island.

Lyn has helped to create and support many profitable and sustainable agricultural enterprises.


Length of service and commitment to the community:

Michael is a well-respected livestock (wool/lamb/beef) producer from Angaston who has contributed significantly to the Barossa community and the region through his involvement in numerous local agriculture organisations, both as an active farmer participant and committee member.

Michael has especially contributed to the development of the Barossa Improved Grazing Group, where his practical leadership has ensured the Group has grown and thrived since its establishment in 2012. He has also been a ‘mainstay’ of the Angaston Ag Bureau (having served both as Chair and Treasurer), the Mt Pleasant Beef Group and the North Rhine Sheep Group.

As a successful producer, Michael is always willing to share his ‘management story’ to benefit other livestock producers. He also demonstrated exceptional community leadership throughout the recovery process of the 2014 Eden Valley bushfire.


Length of service and commitment to the community:

Bruce McLean has been involved with MacKillop Farm Management Group since its inception in 1998. He, along with the other founders of MFMG, could see great potential in high-rainfall zone cropping and identified a need for local research, development and extension to enable growers to fulfil this potential.

They wanted an organisation to drive innovation, productivity and profitability for high rainfall cropping in south east SA and into Western Victoria. Bruce has contributed many, many voluntary hours over the past 20 years towards achieving this vision for MFMG and the Limestone Coast region, which has in recent years expanded into a wider focus on mixed farming systems.

Over this time, he has generously hosted trials, crop walks and field days at his property, shared ideas with fellow farmers, been a willing and thoughtful long-term committee member and is currently Chair of MFMG’s Operations Committee.


Length of service and commitment to the community:


Sharon was a founding member of the PinG SA State Reference Group (2001) and will be with PinG SA until June 2017 when it will restructure itself into a new organization. During this time Sharon has been chair for 4 years and vice chair for two terms of two years.

National PinG

Sharon has also been on the PinG National Reference Group from 2008 until 2011 and again from2013 to 2017. During this time Sharon was vice chair for 2 years and chair for 2 years.

Ag Excellence Alliance

Sharon has also been an active member of the Ag Excellence Alliance Committee.

Local Community

As well as her industry service, when Sharon lived on the Yorke Peninsula she was a valuable member of her local community.

International Coaching Federation

Currently International Coaching Federation Australasia – Director of Australia