Past Events 2020
Carbon Information Meetings
On 30 January and 4 February, carbon information workshops were held at Mulwala, Rand and Murchison for Australian Cool Farm Initiative participants. These workshops were attended by 5, 6 and 6 farmers respectively, with participants discussing their farming practices and the practices which can aid, or hinder, the accumulation of carbon in soils. The workshops provided an excellent opportunity to ask questions about soil carbon and soil health related issues.
Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting
On 6 February 2020, over 80 farmers and agribusiness representatives attended the annual Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting at the Buraja Recreation Reserve Hall. Chris Minehan (Rural Management Strategies), facilitated a harvest debrief, focussing on the 2019 season and its impact on livestock, hay and grain harvest. Michael Straight (FAR Australia), spoke on results from the 2019 Riverine Plains Inc wheat germplasm trials at the Riverine Research Centre, Yarrawonga, while Rosie Dye, IK Caldwell, discussed canola performance during 2019. A barley discussion was also held with Rob Herrod (Elders), David Eksteen (David Eksteen Agricultural Consulting), and Rosie Dye (IK Caldwell), and a grain market update was provided by Ben McCluskey (Market Check),
Pulse Check Meeting
A pre-sowing meeting of the GRDC Dookie Pulse Check group was held at St James on Thursday 13 February, attended by 14 people. A facilitated discussion took place about on-farm pulse performance during 2019, and pulse agronomist Jason Brand (Agriculture Victoria) discussed the best bets from the Southern Pulse Agronomy Trial and profitability of pulses in crop rotations. Richard Saunders (Rural Directions), also provided an economic and risk analysis that showed pulses could improve the profitability of rotations in the region, particularly vetch and faba beans.
Excel Microsoft Masterclass series
A three-part series of excel training workshops, facilitated by Steve Young (EXCELutions), was held during March, covering a variety of basic-intermediate excel functions. The first workshop was held on 16 March at the Riverine Plains Mulwala office, with 8 people attending. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the second and third workshops were moved online, with sessions held on 23 and 30 March, 2020. This workshop series was funded by the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program, in conjunction with Federation Council.
Time Management workshop
A time management and productivity workshop was held on 11 March, at Corowa, with 16 people attending. The workshop was facilitated by Rebecca Fing (House Paddock Training and Consulting) and covered planning and goal setting, time management, optimising productivity, apps and podcasts and improving administrative efficiency. The workshop was funded by the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program, in conjunction with Federation Council
The Effective Communication workshop was held on 12 March, at Corowa. Ten people attended the workshop, which was facilitated by Rebecca Fing, and covered understanding different people, effective communication, conflict management and negotiation, as well as difficult conversations. The workshop was funded by the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program, in conjunction with Federation Council.
Compliance Confidence for Employment Matters
An online Workplace Relations workshop with Gracia Kusuma (NSW Farmers) was held on 31 March, with 10 people attending. Participants learnt about the differences between contractors and employees, the Pastoral Award, salary, record keeping and tenancy issues.
This workshop was funded by the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program, in conjunction with Federation Council.
John Hanrahan Scholarship Recipients announced
During March, Riverine Plains and the Hanrahan family announced Sophie Hanna from Walwa, Victoria and Lachlan Quibell from Marungi, Victoria, as the 2020 John Hanrahan Scholarship recipients. As the 2020 recipients, both Sophie and Lachlan received a bursary of $5,000, as well as access to networking and mentoring opportunities.
Irrigation Discussion Group Virtual Farm Tour
The GRDC Riverine Plains Irrigation Discussion Group was scheduled to meet for field walks on 27 March, however COVID-19 restrictions saw the day cancelled and a ‘virtual paddock walk’ document produced in its place. The document summarised maize crop agronomy, irrigation systems and pumping costs for two farms and was supplemented with information on pumping costs (Denis Watson, DEDJTR), double cropping (Tim Anderson, Advanced Ag) and local maize fungicide research (Michael Straight, FAR Australia). The Riverine Plains Irrigation Discussion Group is part of a GRDC investment, led by Irrigated Cropping Council, linking new and innovative irrigated research investments with farmer-driven groups.
NSW Young Farmers Business Workshops
Eight young farmers attended two business workshops for Young Farmers, hosted by Riverine Plains, during March. The first workshop was held on 19 March, with the second workshop on 26 March moved to an online format in response to COVID restrictions. The workshops were part of a series aiming to improve the access of young farmers to better business information and had a focus on financial literacy and farm business principles. Anna Dye (Corowa), worked with Jan Barned (Financial Management Training) and Tim Haines (Farmanco) to ensure the workshops covered financial topics as well as practical goal setting, budgeting for a farm purchase, paddock record keeping and cashflow spreadsheeting tools. This project was supported by the NSW Department of Primary Industries through the Young Farmer Business Program.
Irrigation Discussion Group Field Day
A paddock walk was held as part of the Irrigation Discussion Group project at Yarrawonga and Bundalong on 17 June, 2020, attended by around 20 people. Yarrawonga farmer, Evan Ryan, described his family’s farming operation, which includes pivots and lateral move sprinklers, flood and subsurface drip irrigation systems. The day also included a visit to Bundalong farmer, Rod Vodusek, whose irrigation operation involves pumping from a bore to 4 pivots to grow lucerne for small bales, as well as Italian ryegrass with clover. Glenn Menhenett (Upton Engineering) also discussed pivot maintenance and Tim Anderson (Advanced Ag) spoke on preparing paddocks for irrigation. Glenn Melton (Xirasol) spoke about Dual Axis Tracking solar panels. The Riverine Plains Irrigation Discussion Group is part of a GRDC investment, led by Irrigated Cropping Council, linking new and innovative irrigated research investments with farmer-driven groups.
NSW Young Farmers Business Skills Program tour
On Friday 31 July, Riverine Plains Inc hosted two on-farm visits as part of the Young Farmers Business Skills series of workshops and events. Six young farmers attended the day, which was designed to show participants how local agricultural businesses have implemented business plans and strategies, as well as their drivers of profitability and risk. Participants heard from, Ian and Tim Trevethan, Owen Smith, Susie Cay, and Tim Hicks, who were very generous with both their time and information. This project was supported by the NSW Department of Primary Industries through the Young Farmer Business Program.
The Riverine Plains In-Season Update was held online on 11 August 2020, with approximately 30 participants joining the session. Dale Grey (Agriculture Victoria) spoke on a number of climate drivers and their likely impact on the growing season, while Bruce Larcombe (Larcombe Agronomy) spoke on key diseases and fungicide strategies to protect yield for local cereal, canola and pulse crops. Lee Menhenett (Incitec Pivot Fertilisers) spoke on nitrogen fertiliser strategies for optimal yield and protein results in cereals and canola. A farmer round-up with John Bruce (Barooga), Dave Gooden (Lockhart), Jamie Cummins (Burramine) and Daniel Moll (Gerogery) also provided an update to conditions across the region.
Dookie/Murchison Pulse Check Group
On 10 August, 17 farmers and agronomists attended an online meeting of the GRDC Dookie/Murchison East Pulse Check Group. Tim Anderson (Advanced Ag), Andrew James (Dodgshun Medlin) and Scott Bartlett, (Agpro Consulting) all provided agronomic updates on sowing, fungicide and herbicide strategies as well as varietal options.
Paperless Office Workshops
Two online workshops were held on 17 and 24 September as part of a series designed to help people involved in farming and regional businesses transition to a paperless office environment. The workshops were attended by around 17 people and were facilitated by Bernie McKenzie and Ben Clurey (Belmores Chartered Accountants). Over the course of the workshops, various cloud storage and accounting options were discussed, with tips also provided on how to work more effectively in the online environment and how to manage cybersecurity issues. These workshops were funded by the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program, in conjunction with Federation Council.
Cover & Intercropping Virtual Field Day
On 8 October, Riverine Plains delivered a virtual cover and intercropping field day, with around 30 people joining the session. Riverine Plains Project Officer, Jane Mcinnes, facilitated the session, with Dr Cassandra Schefe (AgriSci), describing how a long-term trial at Burramine is looking at the effect of increasing species diversity at different stages of the rotation through either winter or summer cover crops. Professor Terry Rose (Charles Sturt University) spoke on key project results from 2019-20 and the rationale behind treatments. Brendan Christy (Agriculture Victoria) also spoke on the Intercropping to exploit rainfall for profit trial, also sown at the site, which includes peas/canola, faba beans/canola, faba beans/wheat and barley/canola companion crop treatments sown at different ratios. Trial host, Nathan Lawless, also spoke on how summer and intercropping fits into their farming operation. This field day was part of the Plant-based solutions to improve soil performance through rhizosphere modification project, supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (Soil CRC) and led by Southern Cross University. This project is also supported by the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s ‘From the Ground Up’ program through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. The Intercropping to exploit rainfall for profit trial at Burramine, is funded by the Victorian Grains Innovation Partnership with Agriculture Victoria and GRDC.
Dookie/Murchison East Pulse Check Meeting
An online meeting of the Dookie/Murchison East GRDC Pulse Check and Pyramid Hill Pulse Check groups, was held on 1 September 2020, with 13 Riverine Plains region attendees.
Helen Burns (NSW DPI) spoke on soil acidity and challenged current practices about how to best measure soil acidity and also made participants aware of how to access new technology and ideas. Ross Ballard, SARDI spoke on acid tolerant rhizobia, with attendees made aware that new acid tolerant rhizobia technology will be available in 2022 and that rhizobia DNA testing for bean, lupin, pea and vetch will be available in 2021. Kate Coffey, Riverine Plains also spoke on results from local nitrogen fixation demonstrations.
Rand Pulse Check Meeting
Kurt Lindback (NSW DPI) was the special guest at the GRDC Northern Pulse check online meeting held on Wednesday 2 September. Kurt answered farmer questions on disease in pulses at the meeting. He also covered disease pressure in pulse crops, fungicide applications, disease identification and conditions conducive to spread. Kurt also provided information on how to submit a sample for disease identification.
Hyper Yielding Crops project update
On 18 September, 2020, Riverine Plains held an online update for the GRDC Hyper Yielding Crops project, with 18 farmers and advisors attending. The meeting involved discussions around research and extension for the four-year project, which is designed to push yield boundaries in wheat, barley and canola in the higher rainfall zone. Riverine Plains has established three on-farm trials at Culcairn, Howlong and Gerogery to complement replicated plot trials sown at several locations across southern Australia. Research component project leader, Nick Poole (FAR Australia), also gave an update on growing hyper yielding crops and using fungicides in wheat, while extension component leader, Jon Midwood (Techcrop), spoke about the Hyper Yielding Awards, which are open to farmers in the Riverine Plains area.
Transforming Regions Development Program (8 workshops)
The Transforming Regions Development Program was designed to assist farming and regional businesses achieve long-term profitability and sustainability. The program, hosted by Riverine Plains and facilitated by Dennis Hoiberg (Lessons Learnt Consulting), commenced in March 2020 with two face-to-face sessions delivered before the program was paused in response to COVID-19 restrictions. The program then resumed in an online format, with six sessions being held during August and September. Modules included; “Keeping your head in the game: emotional preparedness and passion in your business”, “Positioning your business to thrive”, “Shaping your future”, “Managing Finances”, “Managing relationships”, “Managing change”, “Benchmarking” and “Operational planning and management”. This program was funded by the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program, in conjunction with Federation Council.
Irrigation Discussion Group meeting
An online meeting of the Riverine Plains Irrigated Discussion Group was held on 22 September. Twenty-nine people attended, with good discussions on subjects relating to decisions being made at the time. Rob Fisher (AgResults), discussed the economics of spring watering winter crops and outlined the decision-making process for a late spring watering. In a facilitated session, three summer irrigation scenarios were tested using gross margins for corn, soybeans, grazing canola and irrigated lucerne. Local GRDC and FAR Australia maize agronomy trial results from 2019-20 were also presented by Nick Poole (FAR Australia). Andrew Cogswell (Lachlan Commodities) also gave a maize market update for human consumption and feed grades. The optimising irrigated grains project is part of the GRDC investment in ICF1906-002RTX, FAR1906-003RTX and UOT1906-002RTX.
2021 John Hanrahan and UNCLE TOBYS Scholarships
Applications for both the John Hanrahan & UNCLE TOBYS Scholarships closed on 30 September. The John Hanrahan Scholarship and the UNCLE TOBYS Scholarship both provide a bursary of $5,000 for an agriculture degree or diploma student commencing their second year of study in 2021, as well as mentoring, networking or work placement opportunities (UNCLE TOBYS Scholarship). The successful recipients will be announced during the first part of 2021.
Rand Pulse Check Discussion Group – pre-harvest meeting
An online meeting of the GRDC Northern Pulse Check Discussion Group was held on 14 October, 2020, focusing on harvester set-up for pulses and other harvest-related issues. 16 people attended the meeting and discussed topics including harvester set-up with representatives from O’Connor’s and Hutcheon and Pearce, windrowing faba beans and dessication.
Dookie/Murchison East Pulse Check Discussion Group – pre-harvest meeting
A pre-harvest meeting was held online on Friday 16 October, attended by 20 people. Ben Morris (FAR Australia), discussed aspects of faba bean agronomy and lentil varieties, as well as acid tolerant rhizobia. John Fanning (Agriculture Victoria) also discussed new fungicide chemistry versus current practice in faba beans.