Home' Grower : December 2009 Contents News
The South Australian Grower -- December 2009/January 2010
THE first Australian scientist to
specialise in turf research, Peter
McMaugh was named the recipient of
the 2009 Graham Gregory Award for
excellence in horticulture at the annual
Horticulture Australia Limited awards.
Among his many achievements are
creating the name for Australia's most
recognised buffalo grass, Sir Walter,
developing the drop-in wicket in the early
days of one-day cricket and establishing
Australia's first turf research organisation.
Of his 45-year career Mr McMaugh says
"The thing I'm most proud of is still working
in an industry in which I was the first scientist
to work full-time in Australia."
As director of the Grass Research Bureau
New South Wales, renamed the Australian
Turf Research Institute in 1970, Peter
oversaw the discover y of a new species of
nematode that was devastating turf in NSW's
Hunter region, which led to its control.
He co-developed innovative machinery to
improve turf maintenance and developed
controls to eradicate invasive species in
bent grass putting greens and couch grass
fair ways, thus helping to improve the
quality of Australian golf courses.
Mr McMaugh's Couch grass collection
provided the Australian industry with the
superior varieties Winter Green (today's
industry standard) and Windsor Green.
These varieties have been the base from
which other Australian plant breeders have
developed the new superior couch varieties
Grand Prix and Winter Gem. Mr McMaugh
jointly developed the new improved buffalo
variety Kings Pride.
His scientific expertise, innovation and
commercial accomplishments resulted in
many major projects being awarded to him,
including construction or turfing of major
sporting venues such as the Sydney Football
Stadium, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Fox
Studios, Royal Randwick Racecourse,
Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens and seven
polo fields at the late Kerry Packer's property.
Against this impressive array of
achievements, Mr McMaugh said the
biggest challenge of his career was setting up
turf farms in China. Over a 10-year period
he established a turf farm in a geographically
challenging area of China, which was both a
technical and farming success and the model
has been replicated all over China.
Over the course of his long career Mr
McMaugh said he had witnessed the
"Forty years ago most of the turf was cut out
of cow paddocks. Now we're growing single
strain grasses. Grasses are being selected for
performance and the quality of turf available
to consumers is totally different," he says.
"The industry has gone from being a
cottage industry to being a very substantial
The technological changes have been
quite dramatic too, he said.
"Forty years ago they would hand cut and
hand load the turf, now the trend is to use
robotics. Plant breeders' rights have also
changed the quality of turf varieties."
First awarded in 1993, the Graham Gregory
Award is named after the first chairman of
HAL predecessor, the Horticultural Research
and Development Corporation.
Mr McMaugh will receive a $10,000 cash
prize and a commemorative bronze medal.
Two business owners were named 2009
Young Leaders at the HAL awards --
Queensland nurseryman Ross Wilson and
Victorian vegetable grower Rick Butler.
Mr Wilson said his proudest achievement
was setting up his first business, a wholesale
production nursery, at the age of 18. Now
in his early 30s, Mr Wilson runs a successful
wholesale tubestock nursery in
Mudgeeraba, Qld, employing nine staff.
At just 31, sixth generation Victorian
vegetable farmer Rick Butler is the
managing director of his family business,
which employs 70 staff in Heatherton on
the outskirts of Melbourne. The farm
supplies supermarkets nationally, and has
done so for 40 years.
Details: HAL horticulture.com.au
Turf pioneer hounoured
Expertise earns contracts
Young leaders show promise
AT A GLANCE
Outgoing Horticulture Australia Limited chair Nigel Steele Scott with 2009 HAL award winners
Rick Butler, Peter McMaugh and Ross Wilson.
Turf icon takes top
hort industry award
The industry has gone from being a
cottage industry to being a very
substantial horticultural industry.
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