2022 John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships now open!

John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships Now Open for Riverine Plains’ Region Ag Students.

Riverine Plains is inviting applications for the 2022 John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships.

The Scholarships recognise and encourage agricultural excellence in the Riverine Plains region by supporting local students through their studies.

The John Hanrahan Scholarship 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. The Scholarship is now coming in to its fourth year, and has already supported local students Mitchell Priestly (2019), Sophie Hanna and Lachlan Quibell (both 2020), and Jessica Ryan (2021).

Riverine Plains is also partnering with Uncle Tobys to deliver the 2022 Uncle Tobys Scholarship. The Inaugural Uncle Tobys Scholarship was awarded to Thomas Hatty during 2021, and we are excited to offer this Scholarship in support of agriculture’s future leaders.

Applications for the 2022 John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships are open to first year Agriculture or Agribusiness Degree or Diploma students beginning their second year of study in 2023. Applications close on 15 June, 2022.

Each Scholarship include a $5,000 bursary, work experience, networking and mentoring opportunities with Riverine Plains (through the John Hanrahan Scholarship or with Uncle Tobys (through the Uncle Tobys Scholarship).

Students aged between 18 and 30 from the Riverine Plains region of north-eastern Victoria and the southern Riverina region of NSW are eligible to apply.

Click on the following links for further details about the John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships.

Major Drought Resilience Innovation Grant Funding Announced at Dookie

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud MP, has announced a major Innovation Grant of nearly $2m for a drought resilience project led by Dookie Campus, University of Melbourne researcher, Dr Dorin Gupta, which also involves Riverine Plains Inc.

Minister Littleproud made the announcement during a visit with the Member for Nicholls, the Hon. Damian Drum MP, to the University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus on Wednesday 2 March and said that the funding demonstrates the Australian Government’s commitment to harnessing innovation to better prepare for periods of drought.

Dr Gupta’s project, ‘Whole-system Redesign of Broadacre Farming of SE Australia’, is looking to redesign the whole system of broadacre farming in south-eastern Australia to plan for, cope with, and recover from drought, through an inclusive systems approach that brings together individual proven practices into diversified farming systems.

“This project will demonstrate how pulses can be used as an integral part of crop rotations in mixed and grain farming systems where farm resilience is further enhanced by incorporating native crops and grasses,” said Dr Gupta.

Alongside collaborators from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, several Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub partners will be involved in the project, including Riverine Plains and Birchip Cropping Group, along with the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, Black Duck Foods and Gap Flat Track Native Foods.

The project and the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub are funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

Co-Director of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, Professor Timothy Reeves said he was pleased that all Innovation Hub Regional Node leaders from across the state were in attendance for the Minister’s visit.

“This is indicative of the trust and teamwork which has been built across the Victoria Innovation Hub to better serve our stakeholders, on farms, in the environment, and in rural communities” he said.

“We were honoured to have Minister Littleproud and Damian Drum MP visit and hear more about our activities in the Innovation Hub, including our unique approach to enhancing future drought resilience by focusing on the four key stages of drought – in the ‘good times’ before drought hits; in the period when drought is on the horizon; during drought – where most past work has focussed; and in the immediate drought recovery period,” said Professor Reeves.

“We’re continuing to build trust among government and industry that the Hub is where innovation and agribusiness can work together,” added Professor Reeves.

Riverine Plains is leading the North East Regional Node of the Victoria Drought Resilience and Innovation Hub and Chief Executive Officer Catherine Marriott said that it was lovely to hear how genuinely excited the Minister is about the collaborative, grass roots model operating in the Victorian Hub.

“We were able to showcase the collaboration we have with the other nodes and universities, as well as share examples of how the decentralised model is working, while bringing state and federal government, universities and the farming systems groups together,” she said.

“Riverine Plains is particularly excited about the Victorian Innovation Hub because it has enabled us to employ a livestock officer and launch our first-ever livestock project, which is a shift in focus that has been asked for by our members” added Catherine.

The Innovation Hub’s South West Regional Node Leader, Southern Farming Systems, was also awarded an Innovation Grant that involves the participation of other Hub partners, while a proof-of-concept grant of over $100,000 was announced for another University of Melbourne project that seeks to design and test a Drought Resilience Facilitation and Leadership Framework that identifies, builds, and sustains community capacity to implement strategic resilience planning.

For a full list of projects funded through the Drought Resilience Innovation Grants, visit: https://www.awe.gov.au/agriculture-land/farm-food-drought/drought/future-drought-fund/research-adoption-program/drought-resilience-innovation-grants

Meat & Livestock Australia Survey

2021 GSR & YTD Rainfall Summary for the Riverine Plains

Riverine Plains rainfall deciles and soil moisture probe readings 

There’s been some very significant rainfall totals across the Riverine Plains during November and early December, especially in the northern part of the region (the Henty Riverine Plains network weather station at the Field Day site recorded 212mm for November).

Growing season rainfall (GSR, April-October) for 10 sites across the Riverine Plains was generally average – slightly below average, with decile 3 rainfall at Euroa, Rutherglen and Lockhart at, decile 4 at Dookie, Albury, Corowa and Urana, decile 5 at Yarrawonga, while Cobram and Henty received decile 6 GSR.

Year to date (January – November) rainfall deciles ranged from 5 at Euroa to 9 at Henty and Cobram, with higher deciles in the northern part of the region.

Soil moisture probe readings showed the drying out of the profile during October, and the November rains have topped these up, but perhaps not as much as expected in some regions. As at 7 December, soil moisture probe readings showed the profile to be around 50 % full at Burramine, 65% full at Rand (site not flooded), around 60% full at Coreen and Culcairn, and 90% full at Rutherglen.

As of 7/12/21, the Agriculture Victoria Youanmite moisture probe was sitting at 65% full from 30-100cm. Dookie Land Management Group probes show 45, 62, 78 and 91 per cent full from 30-140cm.

NB Monthly rainfall sourced from a combination of Bureau of Meterology stations and Riverine Plains weather station network sites

Managing stubble at harvest

The best time to manage a drought is before a drought

The best time to manage a drought is before a drought

Farmers urged to act now to get ahead of the cycle while times are good

Yields are high and commodity prices are generally strong across the board. Rural confidence is at a 20-year highi. So many are saying ‘let the good times roll’.

Well, yes and no – that’s according to Professor Tim Reeves, Co-Director of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, a new collaboration between government, academia, industry and community to ensure farm and related businesses are better informed, more productive, and more profitable in the face of future droughts.

Professor Reeves urges producers to act when their farming business is in a favourable position to enhance future drought resilience, as this is when farmers can have the biggest impact in preparing for the inevitable, difficult times.

“It’s wonderful to see Victoria’s farming communities generally doing well. Part of our job now is to ensure this continues when the seasons inevitably turn,” Professor Reeves said.

“It is critical farmers take action regarding decisions or investments that can set themselves up for the long term, while cash flow is good and there’s opportunity to invest.

“It could be long-term fodder supply, building stock containment infrastructure or looking at options to diversify the farming business, through geographic location, or transitioning into different production systems. Renewable energy could also be an option, reducing energy bills while investing in environmental outcomes, while other off-farm investments can deliver a return, spreading risk.

“Planning for the future is fundamentally important.”

Professor Reeves said there are four key stages of the drought cycle, and steps must be taken at each stage of the cycle to truly build drought resilience and preparedness.

“There are the good times when there’s a dollar in the pocket, and there are the uncertain periods, where an El Niño might be forecast and the future is uncertain. It’s during these periods where the rubber hits the road, with prompt, effective decision-making essential to limit drought’s impact on a farming business.

“There is the drought itself, where risk and cost are front of mind – and mental health must be looked after – and the recovery where ‘green shoots’ are signalling things are possibly on the way back. Here, farmers can ramp up effectivity, generate cash flow and set themselves up to go again.

“The Victorian Drought Hub will give farmers and rural communities tools to address vulnerability to drought through this cycle, with five regional nodes developing new ways to collaborate and drive on the ground outcomes for farmers and communities.”

The North-East Node is being led by Riverine Plains Inc and the group’s Director of Research, Dr Sara Hely, said that farmers and agribusiness in the region are gaining confidence with managing drought years.

“Farmers learnt from the millennium drought and 2018’s big dry, and one of the key lessons was that their best tool for weathering drought is keeping cash in reserve,” said Dr Hely.

“The importance of diversifying farm incomes, through having a member of the farming family with another income stream, and/or leasing machinery to farmers in other regions with an earlier or later season, has also been raised as a key strategy for dealing with drought” she said.

Consultations with farmers in the North East Node have highlighted the role that social and business events play in supporting farmers and agribusiness during drought, when mental and financial stress is high, as well as the value of education, training and upskilling while times are relatively good.

“Right now is a terrific time to take up educational and training opportunities, and I’d encourage farmers and agribusiness to make the most of this in-between period to upskill their business and financial management or operational qualifications, and by researching and developing new ideas,” added Dr Hely.

The Victorian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub is funded by the Commonwealth Government and will contribute $8 million over four years through the Future Drought Fund.

The program is led by the University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus and is conducted in association with Deakin, La Trobe, and Federation University and Agriculture Victoria; and is supported by five regional nodes across Victoria. These regional nodes are all led by highly respected farming/industry groups – BCG (NW Node); Riverine Plains (NE Node); Food & Fibre Gippsland (Gippsland Node); Southern Farming Systems (SW Node), and Mallee Regional Innovation Centre (NW Irrigated Horticulture Node).

Each node is currently consulting the agricultural industry through farmers, councils, businesses, health organisations, and community groups in their region about how to meet local needs best.

Professor Reeves said the feedback was already uncovering key priorities for action and possible seed funding, from learning from the last drought, new R&D priorities, extension and capacity building, community development, and health and mental health support.

“To get involved and to share your thoughts or ideas for building more resilient farming businesses and communities, get in touch with your local node or any other Hub partner that you wish.

“Together, we will deliver the biggest impact for producers and the community. That’s what this is all about,” Professor Reeves said.

Anyone interested in getting involved in the consultation is encouraged to contact their node at:

i https://www.rabobank.com.au/media-releases/2021/210615-expectations-of-another-big-year-fuelling-confidence-in-australias-farm-sector/