Horticulture

Agriculture Victoria staff member recognised

By Country News

Agriculture Victoria’s David Williams has been recognised for his decades of work, recently receiving a prestigious award.

Receiving the 2018 Australia Pear and Apple (APAL) Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Hort Connections 2018 conference award ceremony in Brisbane, the principal research scientist was recognised for his more than 40 years of work which included a stint researching infertility at the Royal Women’s Hospital labs in Melbourne.

‘‘It was a complete surprise that I was being named for this award, and while I was entirely gobsmacked and unprepared, I was absolutely thrilled to receive it,’’ Mr Williams said.

Having almost followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps in the family building business, Mr Williams instead ultimately went on to complete a degree in applied biology at RMIT University.

‘‘I’ve worked for the department for 42 years, starting in 1976, after being the successful applicant for a role in biocontrol with the Department of Agriculture at Burnley,’’ he said.

His first role involved the biocontrol of mites in tree crops with Ross Field and David Morris, a renowned codling moth researcher.

‘‘After the Americans discovered codling moth pheromones and the following successful trapping programs, and then the discovery of the light brown apple moth pheromones, I was put in charge of a 600km round trip of light brown apple moth trapping runs throughout Victorian orchards,’’ Mr Williams said.

He said this work enabled him to develop strong relationships with orchardists and was the beginning of an extensive research relationship with light brown apple moth.

Agriculture Victoria research leader Brendan Rodoni said across the years Mr Williams had developed long-term relationships, collaborated with many researchers overseas, including in the United States and New Zealand, and had constantly demonstrated excellence in the apple and pear industry.

‘‘David is renowned in the science field for his commitment and passion for his research, and within the industry has shared his many years’ experience and knowledge in orchard pest management,’’ Dr Rodoni said.

Mr Williams currently leads the second phase of the Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils (PIPS) Integrated Pest and Disease Management project where the codling moth parasitoid Mastrus ridens is being released and evaluated in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.