GRDC Irrigation Discussion Group Meeting – Around 35 people attended a Field walk in the Corowa district on Wednesday 18 December, 2019. The group met at ‘Buraja Station’ to view Alistair Robb’s irrigated sorghum seed crop and heard about pivot maintenance and managing wheel tracks from Paul Upton, Uptons Engineering, improving water use efficiency in pivots from Paul Lavis, IK Caldwell and calculating pumping costs from Dennis Watson, DEDJTR. The group then moved to the Dye family’s irrigated maize crop and heard about strip tillage and phosphorus placement from Rosie Dye, IK Caldwell, and soil amelioration demonstrations from John Fowler, Murray LLS, and Dr Ehsan Tavakkoli, NSW DPI.
The Evan Moll Gerogery Field Day – Around 80 people attended the annual Evan Moll Gerogery Field Day on 7 November. The day began with a walk through the pasture trials at the Leah family property before moving to the Moll family farm for the crop agronomy session. Adrian Clancy (Grain Brokers Australia) and Lachy Herbert (Riverina Oils) discussed grain markets while Andrew Millgate (NSW DPI) informed the crowd on new stripe rust strains. The GRDC National Variety Trials (NVT) were also inspected, with the cereals session led by Peter Matthews (NSW DPI) and the canola session led by Don McCaffery (NSW DPI). Daniel Moll also unveiled the new dual-purpose triticale variety, Kokoda, for Waratah Seed Company Limited.
GRDC northern Pulse Check Discussion Group, Rand – The northern Pulse Check discussion group pre-harvest meeting was held at Rand on 21 October with around 33 people attending. Topics included: bean and chickpea agronomy, grain marketing and grain storage. In the paddock, farmers and advisors saw beans, chickpeas and lentils sown side-by-side. There was discussion around phosphorus placement and its impact on pulse growth as well as liming and incorporation. Chris Toohey, Elders, spoke on crop-topping in pulses while Mark Richards, NSW DPI, spoke about new pulse varieties for the region. Allan Peake, CSIRO, described the new GRDC ‘Pulse Adaptation’ project, Chris Warrick, Primary Business, spoke on preventing insects in silos as part of a GRDC investment in grain storage and Ben McClusky, Market Check, gave an update on forecasted Australian pulse production.
GRDC southern Pulse Check Discussion Group, Dookie – The ninth southern Pulse Check discussion group pre-harvest meeting was held at Dookie on 21 October, attended by around 25 people. The first of the day’s paddock walks was held in Alexander’s crop of Samira faba beans, with the group also visiting a nitrogen fixation demonstration in the same paddock comparing faba beans sown with and without inoculant. The Binnie family hosted the second visit to a paddock of Luxor albus lupins. Scott Barlett, Agpro Consulting, discussed spray topping for late weed control while Chris Warrick, Primary Business, talked about insect control in silos, the use of phosphine in sealed silos for insect control and how to use a pressure test to establish if a silo is sealed. Ben McClusky, Market Check, also talked about pulse markets. There was discussion around setting up headers for harvesting pulses, and the importance of calibrating headers for the different crop types to ensure accurate yield mapping.
Riverine Research Centre Open Day, Yarrawonga – Cereal Agronomy was the focus of the Riverine Plains Inc and FAR Australia Riverine Research Centre Open Day, held on 24 September and attended by around 130 people, including around 50 University of Melbourne Dookie agriculture students. Kat Fuhrmann (FAR Australia) spoke first on fungal diseases, addressing the increasing rates of septoria tritici blotch (STB) in the medium rainfall zones, also covering the emergence of SDHI (succinate dehydrogenase inhibitors) fungicide resistance and Ramularia Leaf Spot, an emerging disease in barley. Kenton Porker (SARDI) and Michael Straight (FAR Australia) outlined the major findings from the past three years of work on the GRDC Managing Early Sown Wheat project trials, while Kenton also spoke on dual-purpose and longer season barleys for the Riverine Plains region. Michael Straight then described the Riverine Plains Inc evaluating 17 different wheat varieties sown from late March – early April and late April – early May. The trials, now in their second year, are providing valuable data for members regarding variety performance in the region. The day finished with a panel session which included Michael Straight, Kenton Porker, Jamie Cummins (Yarrawonga) and Matt Coffey (Elders), addressing a range of issues in relation to hay vs grain.
Riverine Plains Spring Tour, Walla Walla, Lockhart and The Rock – 26 people participated in the Spring Tour held on 10 September. The tag-along tour was organised by committee members John Bruce and Ian Trevethan and included visits to Garry Mickan’s Walla Walla property (mixed farming lamb feed-lotting) and Di and Warrick Holding’s property at The Rock (disc seeding systems, transitioning from tyne to disc systems). There were then visits to John Stevenson at Warakirri Ag Trusts, Lockhart (corporate agriculture, safflower trials) and Sandy Day, Lockhart (weed seed destructor).
Irrigated Discussion Group Meeting, Mulwala – 15 farmers and advisers attended the first Irrigation Discussion Group meeting on 30 August. The group was formed through a project led by the Irrigated Cropping Council which aims to link new and innovative GRDC research investments with local, farmer-driven groups. At the meeting, the Dye family volunteered to host an irrigation focus paddock trial for the group, looking at sub-soil manuring to improve soil structure and water holding capacity. The treatments will include; deep ripping, sub-soil poultry manure, surface-spread poultry manure, surface-spread gypsum, subsoil (mixture of gypsum and poultry manure). Maize will be sown at the site, with yield measurements taken over the next few years to evaluate the treatments.
GRDC Southern Pulse Check Discussion Group, Dookie – Around 20 farmers attending the pre-canopy closure Pulse Check meeting at Dookie on 13 August. The meeting focused on nitrogen fixation and disease management. Results from the nitrogen fixation demonstrations sown at Bungeet and St James were discussed, as well as the different treatments and cost-effective ways of increasing the amount of inoculant applied.
Soil Health Workshop, Mulwala – Around 12 farmers participated in a soil CRC workshop on Understanding adoptability of techniques and practices for improved soil management. The workshop followed the In-Season update on 8 August and was led by researcher Catherine Allen (CSU) and provided farmers with the opportunity to discuss and prioritise their soils issues, the adoption of new practices as well as information sources.
Riverine Plains Inc In-Season Update, Mulwala – Around 60 people attended the Riverine Plains Inc In-Season Update on 8 August at Mulwala. James Manson, Southern Farming Systems, spoke on harvest weed seed control (HWSC) in the southern region, addressing the effectiveness, practicality and profitability of several HWSC techniques. Nick Ennis, Lawson Grains, spoke on using precision agriculture to identify different production zones, enabling production to be ‘pushed’ in higher producing zones while helping to identify and improve constraints in lower production zones. Kate Coffey (Riverine Plains Inc) presented the outcomes from the GRDC investment Optimising Crop Nutrition in Canola, looking at sulphur and nitrogen nutrition. Dale Grey, Agriculture Victoria, presented his climate update via videolink, while Jane McInnes and Cassie Schefe (Riverine Plains Inc) gave an update on current research being undertaken by the group, as well as how to read soil moisture graphs. Cassandra also gave an overview of her travel to Canada and USA as part of the GRDC funded travel scholarship, awarded through the southern region Recognising and Rewarding Excellence Award, 2019.
Farm Business Management Essentials, Mulwala – A group of 18 farmers attended the Farm Business Management Essentials Workshop in Mulwala on 29 July. The workshop was facilitated by Tony Hudson, Hudson Facilitations. Topics included; understanding your annual tax return, using financial ratios to understand business performance, understanding profit in your business, identifying ways to improve financial and overall business performance and how to positively influence bank’s opinions. The workshop was kindly funded by the Rotary Club of Yarrawonga and the Border Golf Club Resort.
GRDC Canola Paddock Walk – Around 30 farmers attended a canola crop walk in North Boorhaman on 9 July. Phil Bowden (Bowden Rural Services) and Don McCaffery (NSW DPI) spoke about insects in canola and animal health issues in grazing crops, as well as canola varieties for grazing. The crop walk was part of the GRDC Managing Early Season Canola Establishment Pests in NSW project.
GRDC Farm to Profit Business Update, Mulwala – Approximately 60 people attended the GRDC Farm to Profit Farm Business Update held on 25 June at Mulwala. The event featured topics including; storing grain on-farm, buying, leasing or investing off-farm, taking a profit first approach to precision agriculture and farm business resilience – being profitable with climate variability.
GRDC Southern Pulse Check Discussion Group, Dookie – The Dookie Pulse Check group met on 21 June, with a focus on nutrition. Lee Menhenett (Incitec Pivot) spoke about using grain sample analysis to understand nutrient removal in pulse crops and Scott Palmer (SLTech), discussed how micronutrients could be applied in liquid form to pulse crops. Other discussions included targeting soil testing to better understand the location of low pH areas by breaking up the sampling intervals.
GRDC Northern Pulse Check Discussion Group, The Rock – On 18 June around 30 farmers met at The Rock to view the GRDC and NSW DPI “Updating nutrient response curves” trials at the Kingston family farm. Graham Sandral (NSW DPI), discussed early results from the trial while Ian Menz (NSW DPI) explained the effect of temperature and rainfall. John Stevenson and Brad Chant (Warrakirri Cropping), hosted a paddock walk through a crop of chickpeas.
Farm Cash Flow and Budgeting Workshop, Yarrawonga – A group of 18 farmers attended the Farm Cash Flow and Budgeting Working on 12 June in Yarrawonga. Topics of conversation were financial fitness, planning, cash flow, forecasting and budgeting. The workshop was presented by Wodonga TAFE and facilitated by Jan Barnard from AgBiz Assist.
GRDC Opportunity for Profit Workshop, Dookie – In late March Rural Directions Pty Ltd and Think Agri delivered the GRDC’s Opportunity for Profit workshop. The workshop covered the four primary profit drivers that can lead to differences in long term financial performance; gross margin optimisation, a low-cost business model, people and management and risk management.
GRDC Insects in Canola Workshop, Corowa – 11 farmers and advisors attended the GRDC Managing Early Season Canola Pests workshop in Corowa on 27 March. Presenters Phil Bowden (AOF/Pulse Australia) and Don McCaffery (NSW DPI) spoke on insect identification, early season pest management options, monitoring techniques and paddock risk assessments.
Agribusiness Dinner and Presentation of the John Hanrahan Scholarship – The Celebration of Agriculture Dinner, held on 22 March at Corowa RSL, was an opportunity to get together to celebrate food, farming and fellowship. Over 110 people saw the inaugural John Hanrahan Scholarship awarded to Mitchell Priestly, who is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne. An auction was held on the night to raise funds for the scholarship with products generously donated by a large number of individuals and organisations. Dennis Hoiberg (Lessons Learnt Consulting) was the key-note speaker, covering aspects of resilience. The dinner also provided an opportunity for Riverine Plains Inc to celebrate its 20th Anniversary, with past Chair (2010-2012) and long-serving committee member, Andrew Russell, speaking on the evolution of the group since its establishment in 1999.
GRDC Southern Pulse Check Discussion Group Meeting, Dookie – A pre-sowing GRDC Pulse Check meeting was held at the Ludeman family farm at Waggarandall on March 15, attended by around 20 people. The meeting started with a session covering the lessons learnt from a difficult 2018 season, followed by Bruce Larcombe (Larcombe Agronomy) on pre-emergent herbicide options in pulses. Wimmera farmer and entrepreneur, David Matthews, spoke on his experiences growing and marketing pulses while Anthony Cutter (AGT Foods) also gave a market update.
GRDC Northern Pulse Check Discussion Group, Rand – Around 30 growers attended the GRDC Northern region Pulse Check meeting at the Hilton family property, near Rand on March 14. Chris Toohey (Elders), spoke on pre-emergent herbicide use and Dan Zinga (New Edge Microbials) spoke on Rhizobial formulations and biological markets. Participants then heard from Brad Chant (Warakirri Cropping) on different inoculant systems.
GRDC Mixed Farming Masterclass, Rutherglen – 40 people attended the GRDC Mixed Farming Forum held on 13 March at Rutherglen, with farmers and advisors exploring topics around sheep in the cropping system. Dr Kristy Howard (Inspiring Excellence) spoke on correct feeding of sheep to ensure ewe and lamb survival, while Matt Mahoney (AgriDome) and Josh Buerckner (IK Caldwell) addressed the importance of sown fodders on a mixed farm. Alison Frishke (BCG) presented the Grain and Graze research on the value to livestock on grazing stubbles and Danielle England (AgInnovate) briefly presented the Grain and Graze work around managing business risk on a mixed farm.
Australian Cool Farm Initiative Meeting, Mulwala – On 12 March, Elisabeth Reaves from the Sustainable Food Lab (Vermont, USA), Juliette Caulkins the Mars Petcare Global Sustainable Sourcing Director (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Sarah Heazlewood, Mars Petcare, Regional Sourcing Manager Asia Pacific (Wodonga) came to meet with participating Australian Cool Farm Initiative Farmers. The meeting was a chance to discuss the project, the results so far as well as what is happening in the future. Some key messages from the project to date are that; soil carbon is important in continuously growing healthy crops, to include grazing as part of your cropping rotation, include a pulse in your rotation (if possible) and get to know your soils.
GRDC Grains Research Update – On Thursday 22 February around 95 growers and advisors attended the annual GRDC Grains Research Update hosted by Riverine Plains Inc at Corowa. Harm Van Rees, Cropfacts, presented key findings from the National Paddock Survey and spoke about the yield gap. Jorden and Jennifer Lindgren, 2018 Saskatchewan Young Farmers of the Year, spoke on their grain operation at Norquay, Saskatchewan, Canada, while Graeme Sandral, NSW DPI, spoke on crop nutrition. Rohan Brill, also NSW DPI, spoke on canola agronomy, with James Hunt, La Trobe University speaking on the management of early sown winter wheats. Cassandra Schefe, Riverine Plains Inc, also presented findings from GRDC research projects currently underway.
Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting – On 7 February 2019, over 100 farmers and agribusiness representatives attended the annual Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting at the Buraja Recreation Reserve Hall. The audience participated in a harvest debrief before hearing about the local performances of wheat, barley and canola varieties. Presentations were also made about the outlook for pulses and grain commodity markets.