Professor David Lamb was in western Queensland's drought-stricken cattle and wool heartland but that didn't stop him talking about cropping.
At a recent forum organised by Longreach's Advancing Agriculture Advisory Committee, Professor Lamb spoke about the need for blue sky thinking when it came to economic development in the regions.
The event was packed with local producers eager to kick around new ideas, with Professor Lamb promoting the value of unconventional thinking.
"We've got to grow things that get the best out of what our regions have to offer," Professor Lamb said.
"Consider New England. I can't finish tomatoes in my garden because of the water restrictions, yet down the road we've got some of the largest greenhouse production systems for tomatoes in the country.
"One of our nearby towns - it only has 100 days of water left - is licking its lips looking at this greenhouse setup because its completely self-sustainable and recycles its water.
"You never know what you can get the best out of your region for, it's not necessarily just open-air farming."
Professor Lamb is an internationally-renowned agricultural researcher and the chief scientist of the Food Agility cooperative research centre.
There was a need to think about how local businesses could move up the value chain, Professor Lamb said.
"We've got some wonderful start-ups and organisations in the region that are making a difference
"How do we build our local business so they punch above their weight, so they are not just servicing the needs of their local area, but moving into the regions, the state, the country and offshore."
Professor Lamb also stressed the impact that digital technologies could have on the agricultural industry.
"If we can unlock the power of digital we can grow the gross value of production of Australia's agrifood sector by 25 per cent.
"Things like automation and labour savings, genetic gains, market access and biosecurity - these are big gains we can make."