John Kirkegaard is an outstanding agricultural scientist who has made major contributions towards improving agricultural productivity both nationally and internationally. He is highly regarded for his ability to invent novel crop management packages, based on penetrating science, and to integrate them into existing farming systems so that they are rapidly adopted. He played a key role in the successful adoption of conservation farming systems (i.e. farming without ploughing the soil). He identified and then overcame the biological mechanisms causing poor yield of crops in these practices, and greatly increased the effectiveness with which crops use water and nutrients.