Featured staff member Ian Guthridge

Ian Guthridge, Manager of the Manjimup Horticultural Research Facility

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Manjimup Horticultural Research Facility is home to a number of exciting research projects designed to boost industry transformation and economic growth.

A number of trials and studies are underway at the 105 hectare facility to grow the primary industries sector, including research on horticultural insect pests, disease resistance in wheat and projects on apples, plums, blueberries, cereals, pastures, viticulture and truffles.

Catering for such a diverse range of state and national research projects, requires precise and insightful management and leadership to ensure it meets the needs of both the projects and the staff involved.

Ian Guthridge, Manager of the Manjimup Horticultural Research Facility, has provided just that since he first took over the role in 2007 after working initially as a technical officer and completing his agricultural qualifications.

Ian (or Gus as he is affectionately known) initially started with the department in 1987, on a casual basis during university holidays, working with staff and producers who fuelled his passion towards a career in the agricultural sector.

Shortly afterwards, Ian applied for a technical officer position at the Manjimup facility and at the interview was asked to give some assurance that, if successful, he would stay at least two years.

Thirty years later, Ian is confident that he has fulfilled that commitment!

Ian said that hailing from a family farm in Nannup, the job was perfect as it enabled him to stay close to home and work on a wide range of projects across a number of sectors.

As a technical officer in the early days, Ian worked on fruit, vegetable, pasture and grains research projects.

As his career progressed he started to work more on-farm, mostly on beef and dairy projects focussing on pasture utilisation, and later pasture nutrition.

Ian found that working with producers to implement research findings into a ‘real’ farm environment which either solves a problem or leads to a more profitable enterprise, to be one of the most rewarding parts of his career.

In particular, this involved work with the dairy research team resulting in the establishment of the Greener Pastures project and a change in the way fertiliser is used on high rainfall pastures.

For the past 11 years as manager, Ian has overseen the facility’s technical service delivery teams and also plays a pivotal role in local agricultural emergency management situations, including the 2015 Northcliffe bushfires, which led him to work closely with the Northcliffe farming community.

“Although at the time it was stressful and challenging, upon reflection, I feel privileged to have been in a position to advocate for and provide some assistance to growers in such an incredibly resilient community, both during the incident and in the recovery phase,” Ian said.

In his spare time, Ian runs a small beef enterprise with his family on a farm that his grandfather cleared as a group settler. Ian has two granddaughters that live close by and relishes spending time with them, watching them grow up on the farm.

Ian said that he enjoys getting out on his property, away from the phone or email to do some fencing, seeding, or whatever job needs to be done to helps with his work life balance.

Reflecting on his career in the agricultural sector thus far, Ian said it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience and one that he looks forward to continuing.   

“Despite the usual challenges that management brings, I am fortunate to manage a great and enthusiastic team at Manjimup who always strive to deliver their project outcomes to the best of their ability,” he said.