Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Molesworth man in running for Tasmanian of the year

A MOLESWORTH man is in the running to be named the 2017 Tasmanian Australian of the Year. Microbiologist Dean Metcalf's work is respected by primary producers around Australia and his dedication to chemical-free food production is reaping rewards.

The Tasmanian Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero Award recipients will be announced this Friday, November 11, at Government House in Hobart. The Tasmanian award recipients will then join recipients from all other states and territories as finalists for the national awards, which will be held in Canberra on January 25, 2017.

National Australia Day Council chief executive Chris Kirby said the Tasmanian finalists were among 131 great Australians being recognised as state and territory finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards. "The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding Australians – people from all walks of life making extraordinary contributions to our society," Mr Kirby said.

After spending a quarter of a century studying diseases in crops, Dr Metcalf has left a legacy on Australia’s agricultural industry. In 1989, Dean was looking through his microscope when he observed one fungus destroying another. This gave him the idea that the killer fungus, Trichoderma, could be used to control crop disease. His first subject of study was on a biological control for onion white rot.

In 1999, Dean began working at the Tasmanian Plant Disease Diagnostic lab, helping farmers to identify and tackle a wide range of crop diseases, before establishing his own venture, Metcalf Biocontrol. Dean has since developed biological control agents for Botrytis in grapes, brown rot in stone fruit, root rot in avocadoes and raspberries and husk spot in macadamias resulting in huge advances in sustainable methods for disease control.

Educators, disability advocates, community volunteers, benefactors and a wildlife carer are among the other finalists in the 2017 Tasmanian Australian of the Year Awards. Finalist biographies can be viewed at www.australianoftheyear.org.au/honour-roll

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