New SMS Harvest Fire Index Alert for members aims to reduce 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

“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 contact the Riverine Plains Office on 03 5744 1713.

Catherine Marriott appointed as inaugural CEO of Riverine Plains

Catherine Marriott has been appointed as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of 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.

Harvesting Pulses – tips from recent Pulse Check meeting

At a recent meeting of the GRDC Northern Pulse Check Discussion Group, harvester set-up for pulses was discussed.

Key points for harvesting pulses are provided below, courtesy of Riverine Plains Silver Sponsors, O’Connors, Bronze Sponsors, Hutcheon and Pearce and also thanks to James Madden, Madden Consulting;

  • People have had mixed results with windrowing pulses.
  • Desiccation may not be needed this year, as pulses are expected to ripen evenly.
  • Each header is different and each season is different.  Given the good season, it is expected that pulses will be easier to harvest as the pods are higher off the ground and it should feed in well.
  • When setting up the header, belt speed and header angle is important.
  • Correct harvest speed in critical to ensure good material flow onto platform to reduce header losses.
  • Perforated doors on clean grain elevator help clean sample by letting dirt escape before entering grain tank
  • In large crops and light crops, it is important to get the reel at the right position.
  • Flex draper fronts can be an advantage when harvesting pulses close to the ground; the use of flex fronts is an advantage over rigid fronts when harvesting on the ground in uneven terrain, on flat ground rigid fronts work very well
  • Front setup is very important for crops close to the ground.
  • Ensure that for Case IH machines, AAHC (Auto Header Height Control) is set up, calibrated and working. This will reduce wear & tear on the front and feederhouse.
  • Check that you have close reel to cutterbar clearance set, but not too close that the fingers can go into the knife.
  • Make sure the reel isn’t running too slow or too fast, but gently assisting the crop flow onto the draper mats
  • Grain moisture is also important; less grain damage and losses will occur with higher moisture. Don’t let the crop get too dry.
  • Be mindful of the time of day when harvesting fragile crops. As when it’s hot and dry you may be at risk of losing yield before it gets into the front. Some crops are better harvested in the cool, when things are tougher.
  • Watch for fires when harvesting pulses, regularly blow down any spots on the header where you have friction.

Case IH Suggested Combine Initial Settings, 2020

O’Connors have supplied some suggested combine settings for harvesting lentils, chick peas, beans, and lupins for the following Case IH flagship series combines;

  • 7010 & 8010
  • 7120, 8120 & 9120
  • 7230, 8230 & 9230
  • 7240, 8240 & 9240
  • 7250, 8250 & 9250

Please note:

  1. these are only suggested harvesting set-ups and may not suit in all situations or crop conditions.
  2. In the Suggested Initial Settings the following terms are used against referencing the module set up; SW = Small Wire, LW = Large Wire, LSW = Large Skip Wire, SL= Slotted

For further information please download Case IH’s Suggested Combine Initial Settings 2020 or contact O’Connors at Corowa on 02 6033 1666

John Deere Combine Optimisation

Hutcheon and Pearce have supplied the following S-Series Combine and Front-end Equipment Optimisation information for harvesting soybeans (other pulses will have the same settings, so farmers can use this as a guide).

For further information, please contact Hutcheon and Pearce Finley on (03) 5883 1655


Dookie/Murch East pre-harvest Pulse Check meeting, 16 October – NOW ONLINE

NOW BEING HELD ONLINE: Dookie/Murch East pre-harvest Pulse Check meeting – Friday 16 October

Due to the present COVID-19 circumstances in Shepparton, we have made the decision to hold tomorrow’s Dookie/Murchison East pre-harvest Pulse Check Meeting online instead of the paddock as originally planned.

The meeting will now take place online (via zoom) at 8.30-10am tomorrow, Friday 16 October.

We have recent photos and results to discuss and it will really be the next best option to being in the paddock!

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Fuest speakers include Ben Morris (FAR Australia) and Josh Fanning (Agriculture Victoria).

The program includes;

  • Faba bean, variety x sowing rate and herbicide on faba bean matrix and Lentil varieties: Ben Morris, FAR Australia
  • Acid tolerant rhizobia: FAR Australia
  • New chemistry fungicides vs current practice in beans: Josh Fanning, Agriculture Victoria

For further information, please contact Kate Coffey at or phone 03 5744 1713

Applications for UNCLE TOBYS Scholarship and John Hanrahan Scholarship close 30 September. 

Transforming Regions Development Program – Operational planning & processes, 18 September

The Paperless Office Workshops – 17 & 24 September

Riverine Plains is hosting a two-part Paperless Office workshop series for people employed in farming and regional businesses.

Dates:    Thursday 17 September (Session 1) & Thursday 24 September (Session 2)
Time:     9.30am – 12.30pm
How:     Online via Zoom. To register, please click here

The Paperless Office workshop series will be delivered over 2 online sessions and will cover:

  • Current filing and document management systems
  • Paperless Office: Receiving information, saving and storing information, linking document
    management and accounting systems.
  • Online Programs.
  • Where is the future of online going?
  • Selecting the right option for you.
  • Reading financial statements.

These free workshops involve both theory and practical demonstrations and will be presented by Bernie McKenzie and Ben Clurey, Belmores Chartered Accountants.

For more information, please download the RP Paperless Office Workshop Flyer September 2020 or contact Fiona Hart, Riverine Plains, on 0407 919 842 or email Fiona Hart at

This project is funded by the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program, in conjunction with Federation Council.

Transforming Regions Mindsets, Skills, Businesses: Benchmarking – 11 September

Inaugural CEO position