Dr Jeff Baldock, Soil Scientist

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Lily Barnett, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation

With experience in the packaging, resource recovery and climate change sectors, Lily Barnett is passionate about engaging industry and government to collaboratively reduce the environmental impact of packaging throughout the entire value-chain. As the Program Manager at APCO, Lily has overseen the implementation of the last two years of APCO’s suite of strategic projects and working groups, all aiming to drive Australia’s progress towards the 2025 National Packaging Targets. She has also lead the roll out of the Australasian Recycling Label program since 2018, now with over 500 APCO Members actively involved in redesigning their packaging and engaging consumers to play either role in correct disposal.


Dr Greg Bender, Director, Australian Soil Management Pty Ltd

Greg Bender is passionate about smarter land management, meaning the integration of sophisticated natural systems with modern farming practices to build better soils, landscapes, businesses and communities. Greg is one of Australia’s most experienced and knowledgeable agricultural ecologists. He has spent over 30 years in a range of agricultural sectors and managed Australia’s first national $10M coordinated research effort into understanding soil biology and organic matter (carbon) for improved farming.


Johannes Biala, Director, Centre for Recycling of Organic Waste and Nutrients, University of Queensland

Equipped with degrees in Agriculture and Environmental Science, Johannes Biala has worked in organics recycling, composting and the use of recycled organic products for some 30 years. He has extensive experience as consultant and researcher in all key areas of the organics recycling supply chain, and today is Director of the Centre for Recycling of Organic Waste and Nutrients at the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture.


Professor Nanthi Bolan, Professor of Environmental Science, University of Newcastle

Nanthi Bolan’s research interests include agronomic value of manures and fertilisers, nutrient and carbon cycling, and soil remediation. Nanthi is a Fellow of American Soil Science Society, American Society of Agronomy and New Zealand Soil Science Society. He has supervised more than 50 postgraduate students, and was awarded the Massey University Research Medal for excellence in supervision. He has published more than 400 papers and is one of the Web of Science Globally Highly Cited Researchers for 2018 and 2019.


Virginia Brunton, MRA Consulting

Virginia has over 25 years’ experience in environmental education, research and development for the agricultural and the wider community of NSW. Her expertise is across a wide range of natural resource management areas primarily soil, water and land health. Virginia has strong understanding of the development of organics recovery services, having developed programs for the expansion of FOGO services in NSW, increasing compost use as a regular farming practice in a range of agricultural sectors and developing resources that support the diversion of organics from landfill.


Geraldine Busby, Principal Environmental Consultant, Encycle Consulting

Geraldine Busby is a tertiary qualified environmental scientist, project manager and process improver with fifteen years’ experience in local and state government consultancy and industry roles. Geraldine has substantial experience in the organics sector and holds the position of secretary to the Australian Organics Recycling Association WA.  She recently conducted an ISWA Bio-Waste Study Tour in Austria and works closely with local governments in the built environment to divert food and garden organics for beneficial processing into quality products.


Professor Dr Chengrong Chen, Griffith University

Dr Chengrong Chen is a Professor in Environmental Biogeochemistry, School of Environment and Science, Griffith University. In the past 25 years, Prof Chen’s research areas include: biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients in terrestrial ecosystems and the interface of land and water, soil-plant root-microbe interaction, mine rehabilitation, restoration of degraded ecosystems and agricultural disposal of recycled organics and biochar application and fertilization


Dr Michael Crawford, CEO, Soil CRC

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Dr Maryam Esfandbod, Research Manager, Griffith University

Dr Maryam Esfandbod is Project Research Manager for Environmental Biogeochemistry Research Lab at Griffith University. She is a Soil Biochemist with strong expertise and experience on remediation of contaminated sites, soil carbon and nutrient (nitrogen). She is also Executive Manager for Applied Network for Recycled Organics and Waste Management which brings Government, Industry and End-users together.

Gerhard Grasser, Principal, AgriSolutions

Gerhard Grasser is the managing director of AgriSolutions. He has extensive and diverse knowledge and experience including commercial flower farming, lecturing in sustainable agriculture, consulting to composting operations, farmers and local government and supplying specialist equipment and inputs.  He has also held a number of advisory, volunteer and board positions including the Organic Federation of Australia, the West Gippsland Catchment Ecosystem Advisory Group, Soil Foodweb International, and Tree Preservation Australia


Bill Grant, Director, Blue Environment

Bill Grant has worked in the environmental and waste management field for over 20 years. With a background in agricultural and environmental science, Bill has multi-disciplinary and applied knowledge of ecology, economics, business management, sociology, town planning, communications, conflict resolution and systems thinking. Bill has extensive experience on projects ranging from waste audits and small business waste management plans through to detailed strategic analysis and planning, greenhouse risk assessment and environmental management systems development.


Dr Harrie Hofstede, Director, Spartel Pty Ltd

Dr Hofstede has 30 years’ experience in the organic recycling industry. He was the first to complete a PhD in waste composting in Australia. He initiated the establishment of the AS4454 compost standard in 1993 and has completed R&D in all aspects of waste composting. He holds numerous patents on innovative compost processes and technologies.


Angus Johnston, Director, BioCarbon Soil

Angus has 20 years’ experience working in the waste management and resource recovery field for government and the private sector. This includes six years as the National Project Manager for Compost Australia, the predecessor of AORA. Prior to joining Jackson Environment and Planning, Angus was the Principal Consultant Waste & Resource Recovery at KMH-Pitt&Sherry. He also spent over two years working at the NSW EPA to design resource recovery infrastructure grant programs and evaluate infrastructure proposals.


Amanda Kane, Organics Manager, NSW EPA

Amanda Kane manages the NSW Government’s $105 million program to get food and garden waste out of landfill. She is a former journalist and public affairs professional, specialising in environmental communication. Since 2015, she has been leading the delivery of the Waste Less, Recycle More Organics Infrastructure Fund, which includes the Love Food Hate Waste education program, funding for new organics kerbside collection services, funding for processing and food donation infrastructure and funding to develop markets for compost. With Waste Less Recycle More scheduled to end next year, her current focus is on future policy direction for NSW to meet national and state commitments to halve food waste and organics emissions from landfill by 2030.


KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  Aurel Lübke ,CEO – Compost Systems (Austria)

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Dr Paul Lamble, Principal Consultant, Peak Water Consulting

Dr Paul Lamble has over 15 years’ experience in the water industry encompassing local, and state government as well as private consulting work. Prior to establishing Peak Water Consulting, Paul spent 7 years at Lake Macquarie Council delivering numerous water efficiency programs. This included delivering over $4 million of capital works projects on sports fields, particularly irrigation systems, soil amendment and reconstruction projects.


Simon Leake, Principal Scientist, SESL Australia

Graduating in Agricultural Science in 1981 with a first-class honors major in soil science from University of Sydney Simon established SESL in 1984. Simon found work providing advice and analysis in the urban amenity horticulture and landscape architecture industries establishing a loyal client base with landscape architects, soil and growing media manufacturers, nurseries and arborists. Composting and waste resource recycling to land is a major area of expertise and SESL runs several monitoring programs for waste to land recycling.

Simon is a Certified Practicing Soil Scientist and Registered Horticulturist.


Mike Lord, Consultant, Mike Lord Consultancy

Mike has 22 years’ experience in leading and developing high performance teams and successful businesses in the waste and related industries. Previously Mike has been the General Manager of Perry Environmental Waste Services, CEO of Envirofert, Hampton PARRC and Regional Manager EnviroWaste.

Mike was also a founding member of Compost NZ and helped develop the New Zealand composting standard.  A former board member of WasteMinz and the Chairman of the Aggregate and Quarry association of NZ.  Mike now operates his own consultancy company specializing in business development and design.


Jeff Lowenfels, Author – The Teaming Series Books on Organic Growing

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Normal Marshall, Director, Australian Soil Management Pty Ltd

Norman Marshall is a strong advocate for change in land management practices. His extensive experience brings corporate governance skills and established networks in business and government. He was CEO of Parkinson’s Australia, the peak body representing the needs and interests of people impacted by Parkinson’s disease. Previous to this role he was CEO and Executive Chairman for Australian Drug Management & Education Pty Ltd, which was a leading national provider of drug-free workplace programs for well-known national organisations.



Declan McDonald, Principal Soil Scientist, Regen Soils

Declan has over 25 years’ experience in agricultural, horticultural, recreational and amenity soil management. He has authored / co-authored a number of publications aimed at improving understanding and management of soil as a living realm which include the use of compost on agricultural land.  He is currently working with large agricultural and horticultural enterprises to develop strategies and practices to maximise the benefit of compost applications for a range of land uses.


Sam Oakden, Fight Food Waste Australia

Sam has a background in on-farm environmental programmes and policy development in New Zealand and Australia. He brings an in depth understanding of agriculture and our food system to his role as Food Sustainability Manager at FIAL. Working for the last two years on the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy. Sam is passionate about developing solutions to enhance food production, and consumption systems.


Tim O’Neill, President, Engineered Compost Systems

Tim has a BS and MS degree in Mechanical Engineering and is the founder and president of ECS.  Under his 20 years of leadership ECS has provided engineering and/or technology to 100’s of large-scale composting facilities.  Tim serves as a Trustee for the US Compost Council’s Research and Education Foundation and regularly teaches workshops on facility design, process optimization and odor management to the composting industry in North America.


Jillian Risely, Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group

Jill is the Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group.

As an accomplished executive and Non-Executive Director, for more than 20 years Jill has been an advocate of circular economies, sustainable and responsible business. She keenly promotes market mechanisms, investment and sustainability models which create value. Her previous Executive and leadership roles include Vicinity Centres, REA Group, Telstra and Sensis.


Kim Russell

Kim’s farm management background spanned 20 years on large irrigated agricultural enterprises. During this period, key achievements include the development of integrated farm management and industry wide decision support systems that incorporate quality assurance, environmental management and occupational health and safety in the value chain.

In 2003 Kim transitioned to consulting, providing agronomic and business development advice in food production and processing both in Australia and overseas. Building on early work in decision support systems, Kim has also been heavily involved in digital agriculture and artificial intelligence in data analysis for improved crop performance and environmental outcomes, showing how directly linking these aspects of farming boost profitability.

Thirty trips to India since 2013 Kim travelled extensively working with farmers, researchers, NGOs and communities as Chair of the Stumpjump Foundation, an Australian not for profit organisation promoting food, water, and soil security projects. He grew to love India, so the recent test cricket result was much less painful than for most Australians.


Dr Mahesh Venkataramaiah, Co-Principal, CrabFish Advisory, LLP

Mahesh Venkataramaiah is Co-Principal at CrabFish Advisory since 2015 and works as an advisor to a number of Agri-Biotech companies to uplift and hasten their in-house Breeding Programs using a Molecular Approach. His worldwide experience includes research and development bridging the gap between technology development and licensing. He is the co-inventor of several patents in the area of Stress and Nitrogen Economy in Plants. Currently he is working as a project coordinator with the Stump Jump Foundation on the BASF project “Compostable plastics and their applications towards the development of compost and their application to enhance the organic content in soils”.


The Hon. Penelope Wensley AC
National Soils Advocate

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Rowan Williams

Rowan is the Regional Market Development Manager for Biopolymers, ecoflex,/ecovio for BASF Asia Pacific. Rowan has more than 30 years’ experience in Asia Pacific in the agricultural, packaging, mining and general manufacturing industries, in roles spanning marketing, sales and operations. He is currently the President of the Australasian Bioplastics Association and also a Director of the Australian Organics Recycling Association Limited