Featured staff member, Christine Zaicou-Kunesch

With a career brimming with achievements, including completing five research projects that have benefitted Western Australia’s grains industry, Christine Zaicou-Kunesch has worked at the Geraldton office for nearly 30 years.

Starting with the department in 1990 as a researcher in the Weed Science discipline, Christine has held many roles over the years.

Her initial role was researching brome grass ecology and control, with a focus on developing an integrated weed control system for brome grass in the lupin-wheat rotation.

Following this, she focused on wheat industry communications as a development officer for five years.   

She formally began developing her skills and experience in project management in 2000 when she managed the Statewide canola industry development project.

An opportunity for Christine to move back into research arose in 2003, in wheat agronomy. It was in this role that Christine was able to work with a team of researchers and computer IT specialists to develop Flower Power.

Flower Power is an online tool that predicts wheat flowering times of up to three different varieties at the same time and the risk of frost or heat stress depending on your location.

This information supports decisions on variety choice and the most appropriate sowing date.

This has proved a popular tool, with more than 1800 growers and consultants using Flower Power annually to support decisions.

Christine was also the co-editor and contributor to the wheat variety guide, an annual publication distributed to more than 4500 growers in WA. 

It is a one-stop shop of information to support growers with decisions on whether to implement a new variety into their farming system.

As this decision can be costly, it is important to determine whether the change will provide an advantage.

Currently, Christine leads the Tactical wheat agronomy for the West project.

This project focuses on industry development through profitable and sustainable production of wheat in WA.

By 1 March 2019, WA wheat growers and advisors will have updated decision support information that illustrates the effect of key agronomic management practices on wheat varieties that are commercially available or near to release. 

This will lead to improved farm profitability by improving paddock wheat yield and decreasing the production risks of grain.

A key component of this Statewide project is the excellent team of researchers and technical officers based in Geraldton, Northam, Merredin, Katanning, Esperance and Perth.

This team connects with grower groups, other research projects and industry representatives to allow it to maintain relevance.

Christine was recently a participant in WA’s Rising Leadership Program, which equips professionals with the tools to become authentic and effective leaders in the workplace.

Despite all these great achievements, Christine maintains her success is due to the great team of people she has had the pleasure to work with over many years.

She is thankful the grains industry is so supportive of her work and that the activities and research outcomes her projects have generated have supported and benefited the development of the WA grains industry.