Our Team

Our team has extensive experience, skills, resources and proven track record to manage crop variety development and associated intellectual property in Australia.

Our Team

Dr Michael Materne

  • Over 28 years of experience in breeding and applied research as a Hybrid wheat breeder with Cargill Seeds for 4 years and as lentil breeder, senior pulse breeder and state wide leader for molecular plant breeding at DPI Victoria for 18 years
  • Breeder of all major lentil varieties in Australia that have facilitated lentil expansion in Australia
  • Released the first ascochyta blight resistant chickpea varieties in Australia, including kabuli varieties that have led to record production
  • Developed the first Imidazolinone tolerant pulse varieties in Australia (PBA Herald XT & PBA Hurricane) and initiated work in other pulses at SARDI
  • Developed the first Imidazolinone tolerant barley in the world (Scope) and made the cross that became the Intergrain variety Spartacus in collaboration with David Moody
  • Initiated applied germplasm enhancement, releasing the first botrytis grey mould resistant lentil in the world (Nipper), identifying new sources of ascochyta blight resistance (ILL7537) and boron tolerance in lentil, and released the first pulse varieties with improved salinity tolerance

Mirella Butsch

  • Research scientist at DEPI and GGG for over 13 years
  • Over 17 years of experience in the logistics and documentation of international grain exports, and seed movements including those of specialised and restricted crops
  • OH&S officer and QA management for 3 employers
  • Broad experience in staff and project management, database management and training

Peter Blair

  • Over 43 years of farming experience and an early adopter of pulses
  • Owner Blairfarms (farming 3,300ha)
  • Over 20 years of experience in the commercialisation, distribution and marketing of lentils, pulses and other grains
  • Cofounded The Lentil Company (TLC) which pioneered the establishment of the Australian lentil industry through a whole of industry approach which involved applied R&D, extension of crop production to growers, seed and grain storage, processing, packaging and standards development, domestic and international market development, trade access, logistics and export
  • Founded PBSeeds that’s major success has been the commercialisation of the PBA lentil pipeline in partnership with Pulse Breeding Australia (DPI Victoria/GRDC)
  • Provides extensive resources including 11 skilled staff along with extensive infrastructure such as land, specialised grain processing equipment, a colour sorter, QA systems, extensive silo and storage facilities that are focused towards the efficient commercialisation of the applied research and development

Rob Launder

  • Broad experience as a crop agronomist across South Eastern Australia and the Darling Downs in Queensland, including the management of 10 agronomists
  • Integral in the development of lentil agronomy packages, including chemical and herbicide use, when the industry was being established
  • Has conducted agronomic and registration trials in Victoria
  • Managed a range of seed production crops
  • Worked closely with farming groups and a member of various agricultural advisory panels and committees
  • Over 23 years of managerial experience in rural outlets, The Lentil Company, a multinational chemical company and Blair Farms
  • Focused on converting the latest technologies into profitable results for farmers

Dr Steve Marcroft

  • Involved with pathology research and breeding for resistance to blackleg in canola for the past 22 years
  • Leader and world-renowned scientist in the canola industry, having achieved major discoveries with practical outcomes, including high throughput differential blackleg resistance screening for breeders that is being utilised internationally
  • Winner of GRDC’s esteemed seed of light award
  • Recognised leader of the Canola industry as a past president of the Canola Association of Australia and representative for Victoria on the Australian Oilseeds Federation
  • Steve worked at SARDI and DPI Victoria before founding Marcroft Grains Pathology in 2006.
  • Marcroft Grains Pathology employs 4 staff and has extensive research infrastructure

Janine Sounness

  • Over 28 years expertise in the pulse grains industry including agronomic research with DPI Victoria and agribusinesses, The Lentil Company and PBSeeds
  • Manages PBSeeds commercialisation of the PBA lentil pipeline to deliver rapid adoption of seed variety products to a vast network of Australian farmers
  • Delivery of pulse extension to growers with DPI Victoria, The Lentil Company and PBSeeds
  • Extensive experience in writing successful governments tenders, developing strategic business and marketing plans, pulse grower guides and collaborating with key players within the agricultural industry and the implementation of QA across the value chain
  • Overseen key changes to chemical product label for herbicide tolerant lentil with the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)
  • Agricultural science background with broad industry knowledge and contacts in pulse agronomy, grain quality, QA programs, communication and marketing of diverse product


Sam Holmes

  • Over 23 years consulting to farmers
  • Leading consultant on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia and recognised authority in pulse management
  • Principal of Central Ag Solutions and a privately owned Landmark agribusiness
  • Conducts privately funded research for Central Ag Solutions
  • Chairperson for Pulse South Australia for the past five years liaising with industry from end users, breeders, researchers and traders
  • Sits on the Pulse Australia standards committee that coordinates the changes to both receival and export standards for pulses
  • Member of the Independent Agricultural Consultants group (a group of 20 leading consultants based in South Australia and Victoria)
  • Has extensive network within the grains industry including University staff, pathologists, breeders, chemical manufacturers and with many other agronomists

Mark Schilling

  • Over 33 years of farming experience
  • Early adopter of lentils on the Yorke Peninsula with over 23 years expertise
  • Over 23 years expertise in agribusiness:
  • Founding director, company secretary 1996-2003 Direct Fertilisers
  • Founding director for Northern Yorke Processing and managing director from 2001-2010
  • Employed part time for Australian Milling Group from 2010-2013 as new product development manager
  • Nominated director for Balco Australia Group 2012-2014
  • Owner director AG Schilling & Co, a predominantly pulse growing business employing four staff farming 2500ha on the Yorke Peninsula
  • Owner director of AG Schilling & Co, a grain cleaning and seed business employing four staff
  • Director of Yorke Premium, an export grain business
  • Owner director Linkage AG, a data collection and precision agriculture business
  • Owner MachAg Solutions, a machinery import business
  • Director and owner of Dirty Foods Inc, a retail and food service industry business

Dr Larn McMurray

  • Over 23 years of experience in pulse breeding and agronomic research with SARDI including 16 years as leader of a regional field based breeding and agronomic research team
  • Recognised nationally for his advice and direction into pulse research, industry issues and variety release and internationally for his pulse herbicide tolerance research and germplasm development
  • Developed numerous agronomic management strategies for maximising pulse performance and production including producing over 400 technical guides and reports
  • Instigated and led SARDI and GRDC’s highly successful pulse herbicide tolerance research program that developed and delivered pulse germplasm with over 10 novel herbicides by crop tolerance traits to Australian breeding programs within six years
  • As the South Australian representative on the coordination group of the National pulse breeding program, Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA), since in inception in 2006, had a major role in driving its outputs and direction until 2015
  • Has developed an extensive network of relationships and collaborations with all sectors of the pulse industry in Australia and internationally particularly with Canada

Frank Delahunty

  • Chartered Accountant with over 43 years of business experience
  • Over 20 years in the accountancy industry with experience in audit, taxation, corporate services and finance and wealth creation firstly as an employee and then business principal and partner for 11 years
  • 23 years in the agricultural industry, cofounding and acting as Managing Director of DIRT Management, and managing the Warakirri Agriculture Trusts, a $60m direct investment by two industry superannuation funds into cropping agriculture in Qld, NSW and Victoria that grew to $84m
  • Cofounder and past Managing Director of the Sustainable Agriculture Fund that raised $145m from seven Australian institutional investors for direct investment into cropping and livestock over three states
  • Board member and advisor in business accountancy for small to medium sized, predominantly agricultural related, businesses
  • Australian coordinator of the Australian Farmland Performance Index supported by NCREIF in the U.S.A

Better Plant Breeding is Our Mission

0418 328 661


Grains Innovation Park: 110 Natimuk Road Horsham 3400