Kym Luitjes - Land Capability Specialist / Director


Land Capability Specialist / Director

I have undertaken soil surveys for horticultural development and land use change across more than 150,000 hectares spread over most states of Australia.


Growing up on the edge of an irrigation area in the Riverland of South Australia, my father was a drainage contractor, so from a young age I was playing in the dirt and I’ve never grown out of that. Building on an early belief that agricultural production and a sustainable environment were not exclusive, I studied natural resource management.


After a short period in irrigation efficiency research, I left Australia to study irrigation and soil management in Israel. I wanted to learn how and why the Israeli scientists were so successful in transferring their knowledge to the farmers and getting such high rates of adoption of technologies aimed at maximising water use efficiency.


I learnt that scarcity of a resource is the greatest driver of change, and at that time in Australia (1984), irrigation water was plentiful. Since then, the unbundling of water from land, the millennium drought and booms in wine grapes, olives, and more recently almonds and climate change, irrigation water is no longer considered plentiful. Australian farmers are recognising that water is a scarce resource that needs to be managed with the highest level of efficiency, both agriculturally and for a sustainable environment.


I started Sunraysia Environmental to ensure a link between food production and the necessity for a thriving natural environment to ensure longevity of the human race.


Historically there has been poor understanding of the soil part of the soil-water-crop relationship. In many irrigation areas, poor irrigation management caused extensive land degradation through water-logging and salinisation. The loss of productive land not only meant lost income, but increased expense for drainage systems and disposal.


The rising water tables were also pushing saline water into the rivers to the detriment of downstream users. Government programs encouraged irrigation farmers to gain knowledge and adopt the technologies required for efficient water use. Part of that process since inception, I am both an educator and a provider of services to match soil characteristics to the crop, irrigation techniques and management regimes.


My personal mission and my business mission is sustainability of the planet for future generations. I know we can have a viable agriculture sector and a sustainable natural environment. One should not exclude the other. If we don’t take account of the natural systems that we are part of, we will eventually exploit our environment to the point that it can no longer support us.


My qualifications are:​

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Natural Resource Management

  • Irrigation and Soil Management in Israel, recognised as the world leaders in these fields

  • Practical experience managing citrus and grape properties for 5 years

  • Extensive soil surveys, land capability assessment and land use change management in most Australian states and territories of Australia (30 years)

Stephen Erlandsen - Senior Environmental Consultant


Senior Environmental Consultant

A graduate from the University of Melbourne (B.Ag Sci.), I commenced my life in natural resource management with the Victorian Soil Conservation Authority. Gaining experience in western Victoria, I rapidly became adept at providing advice to landholders and in planning of soil conservation programs at farm and catchment level.


​Moving to the Victorian Mallee in the early 1980s, I investigated and delivered conservation farming systems to farmers, with most being “hungry” to try new techniques in the aftermath of the 1982 drought.


Down the track, in partnership with the Victorian Farmers Federation, I facilitated the Landcare movement in the Mallee and was a major player in developing integrated programs and delivery of new tillage systems, pest management, salinity management and native vegetation conservation to landholders.​ At a strategic level I was heavily involved in the development of the regional catchment model, providing support to soil conservation advisory committees, regional land protection regional advisory committee and the catchment and land protection board. Upon creation of the Mallee Catchment Management Authority in 1997, I took a strong role in the early growth of the organisation, focusing on catchment planning and sourcing investment from Government.

Since joining Sunraysia Environmental in 2004, I have tackled hundreds of projects across the three local states. These range from environmental assessments for large-scale developments to regional pipeline systems, solar farms and road upgrades. Many of these projects included coordinating the approval process under an ever-changing regulatory framework through local government and State agencies.

In land management, I have undertaken rangeland monitoring and property planning, management plans for specific national parks or reserves, pest management planning, waterway rehabilitation planning, riverbank assessments, discussion papers, revegetation plans and soil condition monitoring. I have also worked with Aboriginal communities on traditional knowledges and training projects.

A good communicator, I can see the big picture and look at issues from both the private and public angles and develop workable solutions that satisfy both.


Environmental Consultant/GIS Specialist

Growing up on a vineyard near the Murray River in South Australia, I prefer being outside rather than indoors. A Bachelor of Applied Science in Conservation and Park Management at the University of South Australia was a natural choice.

A move to the Sunraysia area in the late 1990s led to much of the last 18 years in collection,

management, analysis and presentation of spatial data across a wide range of formats for an equally diverse range of projects. There is now an extensive spatial data collection at Sunraysia

Environmental as a result.

My experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and providing mapping solutions has

provided effective planning, decision making and ultimately the display of information for a broad

range of projects that Sunraysia Environmental has been involved in.

My projects are now mainly environmental approvals, contaminated site investigations, soil salinity

risk assessments and environmental monitoring, for both private clients and government agencies. An example is rabbit activity monitoring in semi-arid woodlands within national parks in north-western Victoria, which I have undertaken for the last 8 years.

Next year will see a new challenge as I refresh and upgrade my skills in soil surveying for a range of agricultural and environmental purposes.


Manager Environmental

For more than 25 years I have worked with land managers and community groups to manage a variety of natural resource management issues and their impacts on natural systems and primary industries.  

My interest in the natural environment developed from a young age growing up in rural South Australia and the Northern Territory, from the South Australian Mallee, to the Adelaide Hills, to Central Australia.  My time in a remote Central Australian community was particularly influential in sparking my interest in the natural world.  I still feel a strong connection with the West MacDonnell Ranges, and love to get back there whenever I can.

This interest led me to pursue a career in environmental management and I enrolled to study natural resources management.  Taking a gap year, I worked on a citrus, grape and stone fruit property in the Riverland in South Australia.  Continuing to work on the same property during my holidays, the fruit growing industry paid my way through University.

I moved to the Victorian Mallee in 1993 for a short contract working for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Werrimull.  A year later I had gained a lot of hands on experience, predominantly in rabbit management.  

Moving to the Department’s office in Mildura, I spent 11 years gaining a strong foundation in pest plant and animal management, native vegetation management, soil conservation and salinity.

The following eight years with the Lower Murray Darling Catchment Management Authority was a change of direction, with my role focussed on rivers, wetlands and floodplains and managing impacts associated with river regulation, groundwater and salinity, irrigation, grazing and recreation.

Moving to the Upper South East District of South Australia, I led the pest management program before commencing with Sunraysia Environmental in 2015 where I am using my experience to make to make a positive contribution to natural resource management and private industry.   I am passionate about the natural environment and about assisting land managers to develop their properties and industries in a profitable and sustainable manner.


Senior Aquatic Ecologist/Environmental Engineer

An experienced practitioner with a great breadth of skills, I was originally an underground coal mining engineer in the United Kingdom (UK). One of the first to diverge into environmental remediation, this led to my appointment as Director of Aquatic Ecology at the Earth Centre. We were charged with remediating 150 hectares of acid sulphate soil and mine storm water from coal spoil, as well as the design and construction management of a centre to promote public awareness of sustainable development. 

While at the Earth Centre I was responsible for numerous other projects including:

  • Designing the methodology for one of the first “organically” operated native food fish farms in England.

  • Collaborating with the team developing organic aquaculture standards for the US Department of Agriculture.  

  • Designed reed beds and constructed wetlands for cleaning fisheries water in the Don and Dearne rivers. 

  • Conducted Environmental Flow and Habitat Assessments for the Don and Dearne rivers in conjunction with the then National Rivers Authority

I migrated to South Australia in 2001 to work on Barramundi aquaculture recirculation systems and raising larvae from eggs in a Port Adelaide facility. Moving to Western Australia, for a time I oversaw a team working to secure government approvals for large scale iron ore open cut mining.

My latest assignments were in Western Papua New Guinea, carrying out surveys of freshwater forest streams and preparing management plans for conservation approvals for a timber company. I was successful by using buffer zones and wildlife corridors, which left one third of the forest canopies intact. 

As an international aquatic ecology specialist, I have undertaken phytoplankton, zooplankton and freshwater fish surveys and management in a variety of Australasian, South-East Asia and Indo-Pacific locations. I have reproduced over 160 species, mostly small bodied fish and am passionate about saving native freshwater fish in the Murray Darling River Basin.

As an environmental engineer, I have assisted with design and construction management using ecological engineering to treat wastewaters and vertical and horizontal flow reedbeds and to clean low-level organic wastewater and constructed wetlands to treat and store stormwater.

As a project manager, I have built teams of environmental professionals in a variety of industries, including mining, port and rail facilities, freshwater/marine ecology, seafood aquaculture and mariculture, waste minimisation and utilisation, and remediation of contaminated mining sites.


Environmental Consultant

The core idea of protecting the environment has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. This motivated me to complete a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree at Monash University. 

I studied all areas of science including geology, geography, meteorology, biology, chemistry and physics. This gave me an important big picture outlook of how interactions between the sciences are critical to maintaining our environment.  I subsequently finished my Honours year with a project about Acid Sulfate Soils.

Overall, my education has helped me gain valuable technical field experience, as well as an appreciation of the importance of maintaining the precious balance of our environment. 

As the newest member of the team, I am keen to help achieve our clients’ goals, as well as our own of ensuring sustainability for the future.


Financial Controller

After a short stint in retail, I worked for the Reserve Bank of Australia, which is where my love of Human Resource Management originated. A few years later, I had opportunity to learn the ropes of small business in my parent’s interstate transport company. This laid the groundwork for my office

management positions in the printing and education sectors.

In 2002 my family moved to Mildura, where I commenced work at Sunraysia Environmental. I learnt the workings of the business from the ground up – admin, technical support, project management, office and business management.

Five years later my family relocated and I kept working in the environmental consulting and education sectors, before starting my own bookkeeping and business services company. A registered BAS agent with a Diploma of Accounting and Diploma of Business (Frontline Management) I was working with multiple clients and was responsible for the financial and human resource management for several of them. Identifying key needs of their businesses continued to excite and challenge me and broaden my experience.

In 2017, as part of their revitalisation, I again joined Sunraysia Environmental to drive their adoption of new business systems and assist in strategy development and implementation. I am passionate about all things small business and enjoy seeing the satisfaction, success and growth that results from a team’s hard work. It was a natural fit for me to re-join a business where the values of integrity, value and respect are so closely aligned with my own. To be able to work in a business whose vision is to sustain the planet for the future is just a bonus.


Office Manager

A local born and bred, I have lived all but one year locally, I have seen the town go through huge growth and many changes. I’ve also seen Mildura prosper in spite of challenges such as flooding rains, droughts and grasshopper plagues.

Throughout my working life, the purpose of each business/organisation was the support and improvement of people, helping them live fuller lives.

Besides a well developed understanding of business administration, I bring a desire to do my best, the drive to make change and the belief that with the right team all things are possible. I believe we can all have a positive impact on the betterment of our planet without inhibiting growth and forward movement.


Sunraysia Environmental

84 Lemon Avenue Mildura VIC 3500

+61 3 5023 3643

© 2018 by Sunraysia Environmental Pty Ltd