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

8 April, 2021

Word Count: 530

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

With many local farmers interested in the potential for carbon farming, farming systems group 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.

“To participate in carbon farming, farmers need to show an increase in soil carbon stocks over time, however this is easier said than done, with farmers facing a range of challenges in demonstrating the required levels of change” explained former Riverine Plains Project Officer and project leader, Dr Cassandra Schefe (now principal of AgriSci).

“With the support of the Cool Soil Initiative, Riverine Plains established a project in which paddocks were sampled to determine baseline soil pH and soil organic carbon using the specific methods set out in the Carbon Farming Initiative” said Cassandra.

“From this, we were then able to calculate stocks of soil organic carbon for each paddock and also used a particular paddock to work out what a 0.5% increase in soil carbon might look like in terms of the Australian Carbon Credit Unit, which can then be traded via the Emission Reduction Fund” Cassandra added.

The calculations, based on a pasture paddock near Springhurst, showed the potential financial gains from carbon farming to be relatively modest, with the returns needing to be weighed against the sampling, auditing and reporting costs of participating in the Emission Reduction Fund, as well as the long-term nature of the contract.

“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” she said.

Aside from carbon farming, one of the most important take-home messages from the project was that soil pH and soil organic carbon influence soil health in a significant way, and it is important to measure changes through regular soil testing.

“While interactions between soil pH and soil organic carbon are complex, 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” Cassandra said.

“We know that soil pH, in both the top-soil and the subsoil, is limiting productivity in a number of soils across north-east Victoria and southern NSW, and recommend that farmers use incremental soil sampling as a tool to help identify soils that require lime or other interventions” she concluded.

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.

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 https://www.riverineplains.org.au

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More Information or Interview: Fiona Hart, Chief Operating Officer, Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713

Riverine Plains 2020 AGM

5 March, 2021

Word Count: 363

RIVERINE PLAINS WELL PLACED TO MEET FUTURE CHALLENGES FOLLOWING DELAYED 2020 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

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.

Some significant and proactive changes occurred at the AGM and Riverine Plains welcomes a new, more streamlined and focused governance model.

Riverine Plains Chief Executive Officer Catherine Marriott said she was appreciative of the turnout at the AGM and the discussion around the changes to the Constitution most prominently.

“It shows members are passionate about the organisation and willing to support the change required to streamline efficiencies, maximise benefit to our members and establish clear value propositions to our stakeholders and service-providers”, she said.

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 concluded.

Ends

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 www.riverineplains.org.au

More Information or interview: Catherine Marriott, CEO, Riverine Plains (03 5744 1713)

Free Hands-on Precision Agriculture Training – Yarrawonga, March 1

23 February, 2021  

Word Count: 314 

 FREE HANDS-ON PRECISION AGRICULTURE TRAINING FOR FARMERS IN YARRAWONGA 

 Registrations are now open for an introductory Hands-On Precision Agriculture (PA) Training workshop on Monday 1 March in Yarrawonga. 

 Adrian Roles, from JMAJ Consulting, a leading PA consultant and educator from Young in New South Wales, will facilitate the Riverine Plains and the Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA) workshop funded by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).  

This free, interactive workshop will provide growers with an overview of precision agriculture, and hands-on experience with a range of PA technologies and how they can be used to improve the productivity and profitability of their farm business. It will feature case studies from local farmers and PA experts,” Mr Roles said.  

 “Attendees will learn how to develop a basic PA plan, assembling a PA team, and identifying the tools and technologies they either have, or will need, to successfully implement PA on their farm,” Mr Roles finished.  

 Workshop sessions will focus on proven technologies and practices currently in use by growers and advisors including: 

  • how to identify variability (yield mapping, remote sensing, soil and pH mapping, in season monitoring) 
  • how to identify the key causes of yield and profit variability (including acidity/alkalinity, nutrient deficiencies, weed pressure, water logging etc.) 
  • techniques to address yield and profit variability (variable rate, in paddock blending) 
  • predictive analytics (yield forecasts, input management, pest and disease forecasts) 
  • mobile device, tablet and computer based integrative/farm management platforms. 
  • case studies from local farmer Adam Inchbold and PA experts. 

 A second, more advanced workshop will be held later in the year and will build upon the experience gained and the data collected during the 2021 growing season. 

 For more information please visit the Riverine Plains Inc website at riverineplains.org.au or contact Riverine Plains, on (03) 5744 1713. Registration is essential as attendancis limited to 20 people.  Register by email to Fiona Hart at info@riverineplains.org.au  

Ends 

More Information or Interview: Fiona HartChief Operating Officer, Riverine Plains (03 5744 1713)  

Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting, 2021

21 January, 2021

Word Count: 467

Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting, 2021

Riverine Plains will host the annual Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting on Thursday 4 February, 2021. This long-standing community event continues the tradition started by the late John Sykes and is an opportunity for grain and mixed farmers to discuss the 2020 season as well as the key issues likely to arise in 2021.

Riverine Plains CEO, Catherine Marriott said the group was especially excited to be able to host this event given the impacts of COVID over the past 12 months.

“Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting has a reputation for being a great way to start the season, with the debrief, planning sessions and presentations all helping to focus us on the season ahead” she said.

“It will also provide one of the first opportunities for grain farmers on both sides of the border to come together as a group to discuss production issues, and catch up with each other, since COVID restrictions began” added Catherine.

Timely rains and good growing conditions during 2020 helped most Riverine Plains region farmers achieve their target yields and Chris Minehan (Rural Management Strategies) will unpick the season with a facilitated harvest debrief, followed by a planning session to help identify potential issues for 2021.

Unlocking yield potential in seasons such as 2020 (or any year), requires an understanding of the constraints and agronomic practices needed in the system. To help address this, Nick Poole (FAR Australia) will speak on wheat results from the Hyper Yielding Crops project, with Rohan Brill (BrillAg) also speaking on how to capitalise on canola in good seasons, using lessons from the 2020 Hyper Yielding Crops research project.

Dr Cassandra Schefe (AgriSci) will also speak on stubbles, soils and farming systems, while Ed Nixon (IK Caldwell) and Beau Longmire will provide a local update and a farmer’s perspective on delving. The program will conclude with an agronomic panel discussion with Rob Harrod (Elders), Mark Harris (Rural Management Strategies) and Rosie Dye (IK Caldwell).

Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting will be held on Thursday 4 February, 2021 at the Buraja Recreational Ground Hall, from 8:30am – 12:50pm, followed by a complimentary BBQ lunch. Due to COVID regulations, capacity is limited and RSVP’s are compulsory, with places allocated on a first-in basis. Please email Fiona at info@riverineplains.org.au to RSVP.

For more information please visit the Riverine Plains Inc website at riverineplains.org.au or contact Riverine Plains, on (03) 5744 1713.

“Following on from a really positive 2020 season, Riverine Plains is very much looking forward to the local farming community joining us for Sykesy’s Buraja Day and to sharing the learnings from 2020” concluded Catherine.

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 www.riverineplains.org.au

 

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More Information or Interview:

Catherine Marriott, Chief Executive Officer, Riverine Plains (03 5744 1713)

NEW FIRE ALERT SYSTEM TO REDUCE RISK OF HARVESTING FIRES

9 November, 2020

Word Count: 464

NEW FIRE ALERT SYSTEM TO REDUCE RISK OF HARVESTING FIRES

In a first for the region’s grain growers, farming systems group Riverine Plains has launched a new text messaging service for members, alerting them to when conditions become dangerous for harvesting.

Riverine Plains Chair and Howlong farmer, Ian Trevethan, said the text service has been designed to update farmers on local weather conditions in real time, with an SMS alert sent to farmers when weather conditions become dangerous for harvesting.

“As farmers, we can get so focussed in the day-to-day running of harvest that we can easily become disconnected to the changing weather outside our air-conditioned cabins – getting a text message alert to changing weather conditions in real-time may help reduce the risk of a harvester-fire starting in dangerous conditions” he said.

The alert system was developed by Riverine Plains, in conjunction with IK Caldwell, and is based on the Grass Fire Index (GFI) system used by fire authorities and utilises the Riverine Plains Inc network of weather stations located across south eastern NSW and north east Victoria.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Corteva AgriScience, Riverine Plains members are able to access the new SMS service for free in time for the 2020 harvest.

Dan Dixon, Corteva Agriscience’s Marketing Director for Australia and New Zealand, said that Corteva Agriscience was proud to support the alert service, which would help minimise the risk of a fire starting through on-farm activities.

“Many of our farmer customers are active members of their volunteer local fire brigades and we are pleased to be involved in this project which will help protect the lives and properties of growers, their families and the wider community this summer” said Dan.

Riverine Plains weather stations linked to the new SMS Harvest Fire Index Alert include; Barooga, Berrigan, Culcairn, Henty, Howlong, Lockhart, Pleasant Hills and Rand in NSW, as well as Bungeet, Miepoll, Rutherglen, Telford and Yabba South in Victoria. The Riverine Plains network of weather stations and soil moisture probes can be accessed at www.riverineplains.org.au.

“Harvesting conditions can deteriorate quite quickly and the text service is designed to help farmers be more aware of the conditions which would quickly see a fire get out of control, should one start, even with protective measures in place” said Ian.

“That said, pulling up harvest is always the right course of action if you feel it is potentially dangerous to keep harvesting, with or without, an alert” he added.

For further information, please visit the Riverine Plains website www.riverineplains.org.au or contact the Riverine Plains Office on 03 5744 1713.

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 www.riverineplains.org.au

….ends……………… More Information or Interview: Fiona Hart, Executive Officer, Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713.

Catherine Marriott appointed as inaugural Riverine Plains CEO

Date: 2 November, 2020

Word Count: 417

Riverine Plains appoints inaugural Chief Executive Officer

Catherine Marriott has been appointed as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of farming systems group, Riverine Plains.

Riverine Plains Chair, Ian Trevethan, said that in the 21 years since Riverine Plains was first formed, the organisation had become a leader in farmer-driven research and extension and that the decision to appoint a CEO was the next logical step in the group’s growth.

“We are very pleased to appoint Catherine to this new role as she brings a wealth of experience, leadership and engagement skills that will provide a dynamic fresh perspective to the organisation” he said.

“Importantly, Catherine’s values align with the culture of Riverine Plains and her enthusiasm and passion for agriculture is contagious. We are very much looking forward to her leading the organisation, and our existing team, into the future and delivering practical, innovative solutions to help farmers build profitable businesses” he added.

Over the last 15 years, Catherine has worked in management, strategic and leadership roles in the agricultural, research and regional development sectors, both in Australia and overseas. She is also UNE’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award winner, a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and was the 2012 WA Rural Women of the Year.

Catherine also brings extensive networks and experience in building and maintaining relationships across the public and private sectors. Her appointment will help grow the organisation and bolster the group’s ability to attract practical and relevant research for farmers in the Riverine Plains region.

On accepting the role, Catherine said that there has never been a brighter time to be in agriculture.

“To have an opportunity to work with a member based, applied research organisation across two states is something I’m going to grab with both hands” she said.

“I’m also thrilled to be continuing the great work that Riverine Plains has done in bringing relevant research to the region and I look forward to developing the long-standing partnerships between Riverine Plains and its members and sponsors, as well as industry bodies and research organisations to ensure the region continues to lead in grains and mixed farming research and innovation” she added.

Catherine will commence as Riverine Plains CEO on 30 November, 2020 and can be contacted at the Riverine Plains office on 03 5744 1713.

Riverine Plains 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 www.riverineplains.org.au

….ends………………

More Information or Interview: Ian Trevethan, Riverine Plains on 03 5744 1713.

Cover & Intercropping Virtual Field Day, 8 September

1 September, 2020

Word Count: 419

Cover Cropping/Intercropping field day goes virtual

Riverine Plains is hosting a virtual field day for grain growers looking to learn more about increasing crop diversity in their farming systems on Tuesday 8 September, 2020.

Riverine Plains Project Officer, Jane McInnes, explained that increasing the diversity of crop rotations can have positive benefits on soil health compared to monocultures, or where break crops are used minimally.

“In this region, we tend to rely fairly heavily on the canola – cereal rotation, with legumes often used sparingly, or not at all” said Jane.

“Summer cover cropping, green or brown manuring, intercropping and companion cropping can all provide opportunities to increase species diversity by introducing legumes or other crop species at different points in the rotation” she said.

To look at this in more detail, a long-term trial site has been established by Riverine Plains Inc at Burramine in Victoria to examine how more diverse rotations can impact soil function and winter crop yields, as well as profitability. The trial is supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (Soil CRC) and led by Southern Cross University, with support from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s ‘From the Ground Up’ program, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

An in-person field day was originally planned to show growers and advisors the work being done at the site, but COVID has meant that this has been moved online, with the virtual field day to be held via Zoom on Tuesday 8 September, 2020 (9:00-9:30am).

The virtual field day aims to introduce growers to the benefits of increasing diversity in their systems and will also feature a virtual tour of the site. Speakers include Nathan Lawless (trial host), Terry Rose (Southern Cross University) Dr Cassandra Schefe (AgriSci) and Jane McInnes (Riverine Plains). Brendan Christy (Agriculture Victoria) will also speak on the GRDC and Agriculture Victoria  Intercropping to exploit rainfall for profit trial also sown at the site.

“With good rainfall to date, the trial site is currently looking fantastic and there’s lots to see, so we’d love for growers to grab a coffee and join us for this session” concluded Jane.

For more information, or to register, please visit www.riverineplains.org.au or contact Riverine Plains Inc Project Officer Jane McInnes on 03 5744 1713 or email jane@riverineplains.org.au.

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 www.riverineplains.org.au

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More Information or Interview:

Jane McInnes, Riverine Plains Inc (03 5744 1713)

GRDC Hyper Yielding Crop focus-farm trials for the Riverine Plains

24 August, 2020

Word Count: 477

 GRDC Hyper Yielding Crop focus-farm trials for the Riverine Plains

A new, four-year project is set to examine the yield potential of different varieties grown under various agronomic packages as part of a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment into hyper-yielding cereal crops.

Following on from the success of Hyper Yielding Cereals (HYC) project in Tasmania, the Hyper Yielding Crops project has recently commenced on a national scale, with GRDC Centre of Excellence trial sites established in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, NSW, and Western Australia.

Riverine Plains Inc Project Officer, Kate Coffey, explained that a Centre of Excellence has been established at Wallendbeen (near Cootamundra), NSW, with the research site chosen because it had a water-limited yield potential of 10 t/ha for cereals and 5 t/ha for canola.

“Riverine Plains Inc has also worked alongside lead organization, FAR Australia, to establish three focus farm sites in southern NSW in support of the Wallendbeen Centre, with a canola site established at Gerogery and wheat sites established at Culcairn and Howlong” she said.

Grower involvement is a major focus of the project, and Riverine Plains Innovation Groups are being established to link local growers with the focus farm paddock trials at Gerogery, Culcairn and Howlong.

The 2020 focus-farm paddock trials will look at nitrogen and fungicides, while future focus-farm paddock trials will be based on ideas arising from the local Innovation Groups, as well as from growers visiting the Centre of Excellence.

“We are hoping to conduct small-group discussion field days at the farm paddock trial sites during September, 2020, however this will depend on COVID-19 restrictions during spring” said Kate.

Riverine Plains Inc are also seeking ten paddocks from across the region to be nominated for the 2020 Hyper Yielding Crop Awards. The Award will benchmark agronomic aspects of individual wheat crops, with participating growers to receive an agronomic benchmarking report comparing that paddock to all others entered, both regionally and nationally.

The project combines the expertise of several farming groups, including Riverine Plains Inc, with FAR Australia, SARDI, Brill Ag, CSIRO, DPIRD, TechCrop and CeRDI.

“This project will ultimately provide an opportunity to unlock yield potentials by providing a greater understanding of the possible constraints and the agronomic practices required to achieve potential yields in a given season” concluded Kate.

Riverine Plains Inc are currently taking expressions of interest from growers interested in joining the Innovation Group, as well as from those farmers interested in being involved in the Hyper Yielding Crop Awards.

For further information, please visit the Riverine Plains Inc website at riverineplains.org.au or contact Riverine Plains Inc Project Officer Kate Coffey on 03 5744 1713 or email kate@riverineplains.org.au.

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 www.riverineplains.org.au

 

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More Information or Interview:

Kate Coffey, Riverine Plains Inc (03 5744 1713)

John Hanrahan Scholarship: Applications now open

13 July, 2020

Word Count: 258

John Hanrahan Scholarship for agriculture students – applications now open

Riverine Plains Inc is pleased to announce that applications for the 2021 John Hanrahan Scholarship are now open.

The John Hanrahan Scholarship recognises and encourages agricultural excellence in the Riverine Plains region through the support of a local second year student in their agriculture/agribusiness degree or diploma studies.

The John Hanrahan Scholarship is named in honour of the late John Hanrahan, a successful and experienced farmer from Coreen, who had a passion for agriculture, a thirst for knowledge and real sense of community.

The Scholarship, which is awarded annually, includes a bursary of $5,000, access to work experience opportunities with Riverine Plains Inc or through our networks, opportunities to network and gain knowledge with free access to all Riverine Plains events and mentoring from one of our current committee members.

The John Hanrahan Scholarship is open to current first year Agriculture or Agribusiness degree or diploma students, who will be entering their second year of studies in 2021.

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.

Applications for the John Hanrahan Scholarship will close on 30 September, 2020, with further details available at www.riverineplains.org.au.

The John Hanrahan Scholarship is being administered through the Riverine Plains Scholarship Fund.

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 www.riverineplains.org.au

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More Information or Interview:

Fiona Hart, Executive Officer, Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713.

 

Inaugural UNCLE TOBYS Scholarship: Applications now open

13 July, 2020

Word Count: 355

UNCLE TOBYS Scholarship for agriculture students: Applications now open

Local agriculture tertiary students working towards a degree or diploma in agriculture or agribusiness are invited to apply for the inaugural UNCLE TOBYS Scholarship, which is being administered by farming system group, Riverine Plains Inc, through the Riverine Plains Scholarship Fund.

Riverine Plains Inc Treasurer and Scholarship Fund Trustee, Mr Barry Membrey, said that it was exciting to be able to offer this scholarship this year and that it was great to see a corporate such as UNCLE TOBYS encouraging young students to take up careers in agriculture.

The Scholarship recognises and encourages agricultural excellence in the Riverine Plains region by supporting a local second year student in their studies.

The Scholarship will provide:

  • A bursary of $5,000 for a student commencing second year study in 2021
  • Access to work placement opportunities with Nestlé, the home of UNCLE TOBYS
  • Opportunities to network and gain knowledge, with free access to all Riverine Plains Inc events.
  • Personal mentoring from Nestlé staff from the UNCLE TOBYS factory

Nestlé Wahgunyah factory manager, Glenn Elske said that the team are delighted to be able to support future leaders of the agricultural industry.

“Supporting leaders in agriculture, especially those in the local region, is crucial to the success of the food industry. We know that agriculture continues to change – with advances in technology, greater focus on sustainability, and even changes to supply chains – and first-hand, local industry experience to learn about these challenges and changes will be invaluable.”

The UNCLE TOBYS Scholarship is open to current first year agriculture or agribusiness degree or diploma students, who will enter their second year of studies in 2021.

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.

Applications for the UNCLE TOBYS Scholarship close on 30 September 2020, with details available from www.riverineplains.org.au.

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 www.riverineplains.org.au

 

….ends………………

More Information or Interview:

Fiona Hart, Executive Officer, Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713.