John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarship recipients announced

Riverine Plains and Uncle Tobys are pleased to announce that two outstanding students have been named as the 2021 recipients of the John Hanrahan Scholarship and the Inaugural Uncle Tobys Scholarship.

The recipient of the John Hanrahan Scholarship is Jessica Ryan from Estella, NSW, while the recipient of the Uncle Tobys Scholarship is Thomas Hatty, from Tocumwal, NSW.

Riverine Plains Chief Executive Officer, Ms Catherine Marriott, said that both the John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships recognise the excellence shown by local students studying for an agriculture-related qualification, while also providing additional opportunities for these students within the industry.

“As well as being capable students, both Jessica and Thomas have shown themselves to be active community members who are both passionate about their future roles in agriculture” said Catherine.

“These characteristics were especially important in the case of the John Hanrahan Scholarship, which was established by Riverine Plains in honour of the late John Hanrahan, from Coreen, whose community spirit, passion for agriculture and thirst for knowledge was renowned” explained Catherine.

Similarly, the Uncle Tobys Scholarship is an initiative designed to help make agriculture an attractive career choice for young people.

“We are passionate about supporting young people who have the enthusiasm and mindset to improve both farming economics and sustainability. Both of these attributes are essential to build a successful farming industry for the future” said Scott Boxshall, Nestlé Wahgunyah Factory Manager.

John Hanrahan Scholar, Jessica Ryan, is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management at Charles Sturt University.

Jessica has an interest in agricultural advocacy and politics, and is looking to help shape the future of agriculture by speaking up on issues affecting farmers. Jessica has worked across the livestock, cropping, machinery and infrastructure components of her family’s mixed farming enterprise and her background in agriculture gives her a very practical understanding of the challenges involved in farming.

Uncle Tobys Scholar, Thomas Hatty, is undertaking a combined Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Agricultural Science at LaTrobe University.

Thomas also has a farming background, with experience in cropping and other agricultural businesses. His initiative and resourcefulness has seen him travel overseas and take on quite significant levels of responsibility in his employment experiences, while his involvement in local sport and with local students has seen him give back to the community. Thomas has an interest in grains and crop agronomy and hopes to work directly with farmers to address production and operational issues, with a focus on sustainability and continued improvement using technological innovations and research outcomes.

As 2021 Scholarship recipients, both Jessica and Thomas receive a bursary of $5,000.

Both students expressed their appreciation of the financial support provided by the Scholarships and the opportunity to further develop their networks and learning experiences.

Riverine Plains would like to thank the Hanrahan family for the generous donation that led to the establishment of the Scholarship, as well as all those who have made financial or in-kind donations to the Scholarship Fund over the past few years.

Riverine Plains also thanks Uncle Tobys, for their commitment to supporting local tertiary students and for providing development pathways in support of regional agriculture.

Applications for the 2022 John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships will open in July 2021, with further details available from www.riverineplains.org.au closer to this date.

Riverine Plains to partner in Federal Government southern NSW and Victorian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs

Riverine Plains will play an important role in two of the Federal Government’s Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs being established in North East Victoria and Southern NSW.

The Hubs are being established through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund and will focus on addressing drought resilience research and innovation priorities. Each Hub will receive $8 million over four years, with the Hubs anticipated to be up and running by the end of April.

Riverine Plains will lead the North East node of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, to be established by the University of Melbourne at Dookie, and will also partner in the southern NSW Hub being established at Wagga Wagga by Charles Sturt University.

The Hubs will work by connecting farmers, industry and researchers, with the resulting collaborations helping to drive development of innovative on-farm R&D technologies and practices that can improve future drought resilience, as well as their on-farm adoption.

It is planned that the Hubs will offer resources, including staff and programs, across areas such as water management, food security, farming systems, agribusiness, community support, regional development and environment, delivering improved drought resilience and greater adaptation to a changing climate for farmers, agricultural businesses and communities.

The Victorian Hub will be led by the University of Melbourne Dookie campus, in partnership with Deakin University, Federation University, La Trobe University, Agriculture Victoria, Riverine Plains, Birchip Cropping Group, Southern Farming Systems, Food and Fibre Gippsland and Mallee Regional Innovation Centre. Hub nodes will be established in Mulwala, Mildura, Birchip, Inverleigh and Warragul.

The southern NSW hub will be led by Charles Sturt University (CSU) at Wagga Wagga, with partners; the Australian National University, Farming Systems Groups Alliance, First Nations Governance Circle, Local Land Services, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Rural Aid, University of Canberra and University of Wollongong. The Farming Systems Group Alliance includes Riverine Plains, FarmLink Research, Central West Farming Systems, Holbrook Landcare Network, Irrigated Cropping Council, Irrigation Research and Extension Committee and Southern Growers.

For further information, please contact the Riverine Plains office on 03 5477 1713

Report into pH, soil organic carbon helps improves local understanding of carbon farming

Report into pH, soil organic carbon improves local understanding of carbon farming

Riverine Plains has recently completed a region-first project looking into the viability and practicality of increasing soil carbon for trading through the Australian Government’s Emission Reduction Fund.

As part of the project, and with the support of the Cool Soil Initiative, paddocks were sampled to determine baseline soil pH and soil organic carbon using the  methods set out in the Carbon Farming Initiative.

Stocks of soil organic carbon were calculated for each paddock, with a specific paddock example used to determine what a 0.5% increase in soil carbon might look like in terms of the Australian Carbon Credit Unit, (the unit of trade for the Emission Reduction Fund).

The calculations, based on a pasture paddock near Springhurst, showed the potential financial gains from carbon farming to be modest, with the returns also weighed against the sampling, auditing and reporting costs of participating in the Emission Reduction Fund.

The project highlighted how complex it can be to measure and validate any increase or change in soil organic carbon over time, and that trading carbon through the Emission Reduction Fund requires a thorough understanding of the process before committing.

Aside from carbon farming, one of the most important take-home messages from the project was that interactions between soil pH and soil organic carbon are complex, and that soil pH is a key parameter driving the soil’s ability to increase soil carbon, with low pH soils having reduced microbial activity and organic matter turnover.

For the full report, visit https://riverineplains.org.au/quantifying-the-carbon-gains-from-mixed-cropping-systems/

This project was completed within the Cool Soil Initiative with partners Mars Petcare, Kellogg’s, Manildra Group and Allied Pinnacle, through the Sustainable Food Lab and Charles Sturt University (CSU), with additional funding through the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and participating growers. This project was also supported by the North East and Goulburn Broken CMAs through funding provided by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Soil organic carbon & pH online workshop – 23 March

An online workshop with Dr Cassandra Schefe (AgriSci Pty Ltd)  will present the key findings from the Riverine Plains project “Quantifying in-paddock variations of soil organic carbon and pH” project. The project was funded through Goulburn Broken CMA’s “From the Ground Up” project and commenced in 2019.

The workshop will present the research results from this project and aims to increase the understanding of the interaction between soil organic carbon and pH, as well the need for updated sampling practices and opportunities for increasing soil organic carbon.

When: Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Time: 9.00am – 10.15am

Where: online

To register for this workshop, click here or contact Karen Brisbane – Bullock on 0409 955 396 or email karenb@gbcma.vic.gov.au

To download a pdf copy of the flyer, please click here.

Riverine Plains AGM news

The Riverine Plains Inc Annual General Meeting (AGM) for 2020 was held at the group’s Mulwala office on Thursday 25 February, 2021. The 2020 AGM was delayed until 2021 as a result of border closures and COVID-19, which prevented the AGM from being conducted earlier.

Ian Trevethan was re-elected as Chair, with Fiona Marshall elected as Vice-Chair. Murray Scholz was elected as Treasurer, with John Bruce elected as Public Officer. Melissa Brown was also elected to the board.

Several constitutional changes were passed at the AGM which related to membership eligibility and board structure.

Riverine Plains Chair, Ian Trevethan described these changes as important for enabling a more focused, efficient organisation, with a sharper focus on delivering value to members, partners and research associates, while remaining true the Riverine Plains’ motto of “Farmers inspiring Farmers”.

In his 2020 Chairman’s Report, Ian Trevethan thanked the outgoing 2020 committee (John Bruce, Melissa Brown, Adrian Clancy, Barry Membrey, Jan Davis, Paul Gontier, Fiona Marshall, Brad Stillard, Eric Nankivell, Curt Severin and Daniel Moll) for their work and support throughout the year. Ian also thanked Dale Grey of Agriculture Victoria for providing Executive Support.

Ian also expressed his heartfelt thanks for the individual contributions made to the group over many years and stated he was looking forward to the continued involvement of the 2020 committee through the new board and the various subcommittees.

“I believe the group met last year’s significant challenges exceptionally well and, with a smaller board and a new CEO, Riverine Plains is well placed to meet future challenges and capitilise on new opportunities” he said.

Cool Soils Initiative Grower Summit – 16 March, Howlong

Riverine Plains will host a Cool Soils Initiative Grower Summit from 9am-11:30am on Tuesday 16 March, 2021, at Howlong.

To download the pdf version of the flyer, please click here.

RSVP’s are essential by Thursday 11 March, 2020 to jane@riverineplains.org.au or phone 03 5744 1713.

Hyper Yielding Crops meeting – key points from 23 February meeting

Riverine Plains hosted Hyper Yielding Crops project meetings at Brocklesby and Rutherglen on Tuesday 23 February, 2021. Results from the Hyper Yielding Crops On-farm Focus Trials, as well as the results from the Hyper Yielding Crops technology centre at Wallendbeen were discussed, with presentations by Nick Poole and Tom Price (FAR Australia), Jon Midwood (TechCrop) and Kate Coffey (Riverine Plains).

More detailed results and information from the Hyper Yielding Crops field day are available by downloading the following presentations NSW HYC Grower meeting 23 Feb 2021 and 210223_HYC RP Innovation Groups

Key points from the On-farm Focus trials were;

Nitrogen trial, Howlong (Accroc wheat)

  • There were clear differences between the northern and southern parts of the paddock, based on the old fence line. The differences could be paddock history, soil type or past management or all of the above.
  • In the northern half of the paddock, there was a negative yield response to extra 100kg/ha urea (46kg N/ha) at GS30 in the strip trial. Yield decreased by 0.45t/ha and gross margin loss was $147/ha.
  • On the southern half of the paddock, the addition of 200kg/ha urea (92kgN/ha) at GS30 produced an extra 0.55t/ha, compared to the Nil urea at GS30 strip to the south. This gave break-even situation.
  • Grain protein (N content of the grain) of the highest yielding strip was only 8.3%.  With different N timings maybe the highest yielding treatment could have been even higher?

Fungicide trial, Culcairn (Trojan wheat)

  • Based on this trial, if stripe rust was left uncontrolled,  yield loss was up to 4.0t/ha.
  • Cogito at GS30, Prosaro at GS32 and Opus at GS39 gave the highest, significant (p<0.05), yield of 7.67t/ha. The additional gross margin from the application of fungicide was: $800/ha.
  • If farmers continue to grow susceptible varieties such as Trojan and Bennett, adding flutriafol on the fertilizer gives the grower significant improvement in levels of control. Fungicides will still be required at GS32 and GS39.

Nitrogen trial, Gerogery (HyTTec canola)

  • Based on this trial, an additional 80 kg/ha of urea at the yellow bud stage gave a significant (p=0.005) yield advantage over the overall paddock strategy. The gross margin of the additional applied nitrogen was $29/ha.
  • Increasing the rate of urea at yellow bud to 160 kg/ha urea didn’t increase yield significantly.
  • To optimize yield,  aim for a target flowering dry matter of 5t/ha. The trial reached this optimum amount of dry matter at flowering. Hybrids offer the potential for higher and more resilient yields over the open pollinated varieties.