Managing early season canola pests workshop – Corowa, 27 March

A workshop will be held at Corowa on Wednesday 27 March to help address the management of early season canola pests.

This event is part of a workshop series being held across NSW. These workshops are designed to assist farmers and advisors in identifying the range of pests and natural enemies present in canola, as well as to present the latest research information on early season pest management.

The workshops will cover:

  • Insect identification
  • Early season pest discussion
  • Management options and monitoring techniques
  • Paddock walk risk assessment

The day will feature presentations from CESAR, Phil Bowden (AOF/Pulse Australia) and Don McCaffery (NSW DPI).

Workshops will also be held at Lockhart and Deniliquin (see flyer for details).

For further details please download the Managing Pests in Canola workshops flyer (Corowa) or contact either the Riverine Plains Office on (03) 5744 1713, email or Phil Bowden (AOF/Pulse Australia) on 0427 201 946, email

The workshops have been funded by GRDC, organised by Farmlink and Phil Bowden, and are supported by AOF, NSW DPI and Local Land Services.

Opportunities for grains profit to be explored in Dookie, Echuca and Warracknabeal  

March, 2019

Word Count: 357

Growers in the Dookie, Echuca, Warracknabeal and neighbouring regions will soon be given an insight into what makes top performing grain-growing businesses in southern Australia so successful.

According to a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) research investment, the top 20 percent of grain businesses are retaining 30 pc of turnover as net profit, while the average business is retaining closer to 10 pc.

So, what are these top businesses doing differently to achieve this? Three GRDC ‘Opportunity for Profit’ workshops at Dookie on March 25, Echuca on March 26 and Warracknabeal on March 27 will provide the answers and enable local growers to better understand the profit drivers in their own businesses.

The half-day workshops will delve into the results from the GRDC three-year national project investment titled ‘the integration of profit drivers and technical information for more informed decisions’.

The project was led by Rural Directions Pty Ltd in the southern region, in association with Meridian Agriculture and Macquarie Franklin.

James Hillcoat, of Rural Directions, says the research has benchmarked more than 300 grain businesses nationally to identify what drives profit in each agro-ecological zone and how the provision of technical information links with these profit drivers.

This insightful information will be explored in detail at the workshops, by the end of which Mr Hillcoat (who is delivering the workshops) says participants will be well placed to identify opportunities for profit within their individual businesses.

“They will go away with an enhanced understanding of the performance of the top 20 pc growers in their region and will also be able to identify the management traits of a top 20 pc grower,” he says.

Kate Burke of Think Agri, who will co-deliver at the Dookie and Echuca events, says attendees will build their knowledge around the profit drivers that really make a difference in a grain business and will have access to diagnostic tools and processes to easily assess their own business performance.

Registration for the event is essential. To register or for more information, phone 08 8841 4500, email or visit


Contact Details


James Hillcoat, Rural Directions

Phone 08 8841 4500


Sharon Watt, GRDC
Phone 0409 675 100

GRDC Media Release: Cassie Schefe: an ‘asset’ to the grains industry rewarded

The contribution of Cassandra Schefe to the Australian grains industry has been officially recognised by way of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s 2019 Southern Region Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award.

The award, voted upon by the GRDC Southern Region Panel, acknowledges Dr Schefe’s input and commitment to the grains industry.

In presenting the award at the GRDC Grains Research Update in Bendigo, GRDC Southern Region Panel chair John Bennett described Dr Schefe as “an asset to our industry” – not just in the region where she works as a research co-ordinator for Riverine Plains Inc and as an independent soil science consultant, but well beyond.

“Cassie is in an elite class,” Mr Bennett said. “She is one of those researchers who has a rare ability to undertake cutting-edge scientific research and then extend the outcomes of that work to growers and others in an engaging and easy-to-understand fashion, that results in on-farm impact.”

Prior to commencing work with Riverine Plains, Dr Schefe’s career was with what is now known as Agriculture Victoria, where she was first employed as a DPI Cadet in 1996 while studying Agricultural Science. She then became a research scientist in soil chemistry, working on several GRDC investments.

After completing her PhD studies through a GRDC-funded scholarship, which included study at the University of Naples, Italy, Dr Schefe collaborated with technical experts to develop synchrotron techniques to better understand nutrient reactions in soil.

Dr Schefe began working for Riverine Plains in March 2014 in the capacity of extension officer. One of the key tasks of this newly-created position was to instigate four grower discussion groups across the Riverine Plains area as part of a GRDC investment to improve the adoption of no-till stubble retained systems in the region by overcoming some of the constraints associated with these systems.

“Over the life of what has been known as the Stubble Initiative, Cassie organised discussion groups and facilitated interaction,” Mr Bennett said. “She also assisted in the extension of research results from the project through other means, including through presentations at seminars and field days.”

In 2015, Dr Schefe was instrumental in securing additional investment from the GRDC to measure the impact of different stubble treatments on in-canopy temperatures at three large-plot stubble trial sites for the 2015-17 field plot trials.

This investment linked the project into the GRDC’s National Frost Initiative, with all data generated being submitted into the national frost research database for review and analysis.

Dr Schefe has also worked on a number of other GRDC investments and various agricultural industry research programs, while continuing professional development as a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS).

Through her private consultancy, Dr Schefe works with universities, councils, catchment management authorities, industry, farmers and other organisations, providing soil science advice. She is the interface between Australian farmers and the international food industry for the Australian Cool Farm Initiative (ACFI), which aims to promote the long-term productivity and quality of broadacre cropping systems in Victoria and New South Wales using low carbon management practices.

“Her collaborative approach allows her to work with people across disciplines, organisations and even international time zones,” Mr Bennett said.

“Cassie is an academic who has made a conscientious effort to ensure that her work translates into tangible benefits for growers. She utilises cutting-edge technologies to address fundamental soil productivity issues.

“According to those who know her well, she is thorough to the nth degree, she is dedicated to supporting growers in their quest to improve profitability and she’s not afraid to go the extra mile to ensure her research message hits the target.

“If there’s a knowledge or research gap, or an obstacle to practice change, Cassie will identify it, understand it and work hard to have it addressed.”

Dr Schefe is the author of an exhaustive list of publications, including journal and conference papers and various reports, holds an adjunct Senior Research Fellow position at Monash University and in her spare time co-supervises PhD students at Monash University and The University of Melbourne.

“Cassie, we are truly grateful for all that you have done and continue to do, to further our industry,” Mr Bennett said when presenting the award.

“As a most worthy recipient of this Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award, you receive a financial scholarship that can be used for travel or another agreed activity to further your skills and expertise.

“You will be provided with an opportunity to network and strengthen linkages with other world-leading researchers to identify relevant research and technologies for potential adoption here in Australia”.


Sharon Watt, GRDC
0403 675 100

Mixed Farming Forum, Rutherglen – 13 March

4 March, 2019

Word Count: 479

Mixed Farming Forum for Rutherglen

Addressing some of the challenges and advantages of mixed farming systems in the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Region will be the focus of a Mixed Farming forum hosted by Riverine Plains Inc at Rutherglen on Wednesday 13 March 2019.

“Over the past few years we have seen some grain growers capitalise on strong meat and wool prices by introducing stock for the first time or by re-introducing or expanding their individual livestock enterprises” said Riverine Plains Inc Executive Officer, Fiona Hart

“There are a number of potential advantages that come from integrating both livestock and cropping enterprises into a mixed farming system, including reduced input costs, the potential to reduce climatic and economic risks, greater income diversity and increased resilience” explained Fiona.

“However, these changes also require more complex decisions, a greater range of skills, a higher level of management and additional labour demands for mixed farmers compared to operations with a single focus” she added.

The GRDC Mixed Farming Forum at Rutherglen aims to address a number of issues specific to mixed farming systems in the Riverine Plains region and will feature several highly regarded speakers.

These include Kristy Howard, from Inspiring Excellence, who will speak on sheep requirements in the cereal – sheep zone for optimal productivity, while Matt Mahoney of Agridome will speak on the importance of sown fodder on a mixed farm. Josh Buerckner of I K Caldwell will talk about grazing crops and Alison Frischke from BCG will speak on stubble grazing values.

A focus of the day will also be the discussion of information and results generated from the highly successful Grain and Graze programs, as part of a two-year project investment by GRDC to increase awareness of the outcomes of the project, which is being managed by Ag Ex Alliance.

“The Grain and Graze programs ran nationally from 2010 – 2016 and involved a lot of collaboration between researchers, advisors and farmers around mixing livestock and cropping programs” said Project Coordinator Danielle England of AgInnovate

“Most of the agricultural research projects in both the Australian grain and livestock industries looked at each enterprise in isolation, while in Grain & Graze they were considered together and we invite local farmers, agronomists and livestock advisors to join us as we unwrap these results in Rutherglen” said Danielle.

The Mixed Farming Forum will be held on Wednesday March 13, 2019 at the Agriculture Victoria Rutherglen Centre, 124 Chiltern Valley Road, Rutherglen, from 8:45am-1:30pm.  The workshop is free. RSVPs are requested to assist with catering.

For more information, or to register please contact Fiona Hart at or phone (03) 5744 1713 or visit

Riverine Plains Inc is an independent farming systems group specialising in farmer driven research and extension across north-east Victoria and southern New South Wales. For more information, or to become a member, please visit



More Information or Interview:

Fiona Hart, Executive Officer, Riverine Plains (03 5744 1713)

Mixed Farming Forum, Rutherglen – 13 March

A Mixed Farming Forum will be held at the Agriculture Victoria Rutherglen Centre, Rutherglen on Wednesday 13 March from 8:45am-1:30pm.

This free forum is designed for mixed farmers and will discuss the key learnings from the successful GRDC Grain & Graze program.

Discussions will include:

  • Sheep requirements in the cereal/sheep zone for optimum livestock productivity and profitability: Kristy Howard, Inspiring Excellence
  • The importance of sown fodder on a mixed farm (& how to optimise it): Matt Mahoney, AgriDome
  • 10 years of grazing crop experiences: Josh Buerckner, IK Caldwell
  • The latest in stubble grazing values: Alison Frischke, BCG
  • Introduction to Grain & Graze decision making tools: Danielle England, AgInnovate

To register, or for further information, please contact Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713 or email or download the Mixed Farming Forum Riverine Plains flyer 

Rand Pulse Check Meeting – 14 March

A pre-sowing Northern Pulse Check Meeting will be held at the Hamilton family property, Bogandillan, near Rand, on Thursday 14 March from 8:30am – 12 noon.

Guest speakers and topics are as follows;

Seeding rates: We will have scales so bring your pulse seed to calculate sowing rates for 2019

Pre- Emergent Herbicides: Chris Toohey, Elders;

Rhizobia formulations and biological markets: Dan Zinga, New Edge Microbials;

Pulse markets: Ben McClusky, Market Check;

Inoculant systems: Sandy Hamilton, Rand, Brad Chant, Lockhart, Vince Lenehan, Wagga.

The event is free and all are welcome. Attendees do not need to have attended previous meetings or have any prior knowledge of pulse production. The event is free and all are welcome. Light refreshments provided

For further information, including a map of how to get to Bogandillan, please download the 2019 March Rand Pulse Check Flyer. To register your interest please contact Kate Coffey on 03 5744 1713 or email

Dookie Pulse Check Meeting – 15 March

The Riverine Plains Inc Southern Pulse Check pre-sowing discussion group meeting is on Friday 15 March.

The meeting will be held from 9:30am -12pm at the Ludeman family property sheds at 334 Ludeman Road, Waggarandall (Dookie), 3646.

The meeting will include;

  • 2018 pulse harvest debrief
  • Likely issues for sowing 2019
  • Seeding rates for 2019 (We will have scales so bring in a small sample of pulse seed and we can use these weights to calculate sowing rates for 2019)
  • Pre-emergent Herbicides Bruce Larcombe, Larcombe Agronomy.
  • Growing and Marketing Pulses David Matthews, Farm Trade Australia
  • Update on Pulse markets Anthony Cutter, AGT Foods
  • New Pulse Trial at Dookie Kate Coffey, Riverine Plains Inc

Attendees do not need to have attended previous meetings or have any prior knowledge of pulse production. The event is free and all are welcome. Light refreshments provided.

For more information please download the Dookie Pulse Check group pre-season meeting flyer or to register your interest please contact Kate Coffey on 03 5744 1713, or email