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Birchip Cropping Group Field Day a huge success

  • By: Farm Tender "Prime"
  • Sep 16, 2017

The BCG Main Field Day at Curyo on Wednesday, September 13 has been declared one of its best.

The two paddocks owned by Jim and Craig Rickard hosted more than 25 trials which attracted a crowd of 400, and the event delivered on its promise to educate, upskill and inform.
Farmers from as far away as the Riverina, Central Victoria and the South Australia joined hundreds from the Wimmera and Mallee who took the opportunity to meet industry experts, hear from top public speakers and witness first-hand research in their region.

During the official opening, GRDC Southern Panel Chair Keith Pengilley announced a $310,000 GRDC Infrastructure Grant for BCG to further enhance its delivery of valuable science-based research and extension outputs for the benefit of growers throughout the Mallee and Wimmera regions in Victoria, and well beyond.

Mr Pengilley said “BCG is an important research partner of the GRDC – the work undertaken by this highly respected organisation has over many years directly contributed to adoption of improved farm practices for increased grower profitability.”

Following the announcement and Q&A with site host farmers, attendees took the opportunity to tour the research sites and hear from industry knowledge brokers, researchers, farmers and agronomists.

The trial tours were popular with a high level of interest in research investigating frost ID and management, pulse agronomy and marketing, emerging weed management, shielded sprayer engineering, disease management and control thresholds, early sown wheat and varieties, emerging chemistry, mixed crop types and grazing management and sheep health.

After lunch a capacity crowd filled the marquee to hear CSIRO mice expert Steve Henry provide an update on the current mice situation including the importance of monitoring, breeding cycles and baiting strategies.

Mr. Henry emphasised that mice can breed from six weeks of age, have a litter of pups every 20 days, a single pair can give rise to 500 offspring in a season and spring is their most prevalent breeding season.

“Zinc phosphide is the only control technique for broad scale application and monitoring relies on farmers being aware of the emerging problem and being proactive about control strategies.”
The afternoon focus then shifted to the weather and ukulele extraordinaire and Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey provided attendees with a spring weather outlook which indicated that during spring we can expect average to slightly drier rainfall and average to slightly warmer temperatures.

Machinery was the next topic and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries QLD economist James Hagan highlighted the effects of compaction and how shifting to controlled traffic farming is more affordable than most think.

“The vast majority of people I have spoken to said it has cost less than $50,000 if they’re already on RTK to shift to controlled traffic farming. And, when done in line with regular machinery replacement it can be a gradual implementation process.”
A keynote presentation was from Rural Bank’s Chief Financial Officer Will Rayner who said that over the last 20 years there has been a growth in farm land by 6.1 per cent.

“Over the past 20 years farm debt levels and land and improvement values have grown together but the equity ratio has remained the same. Rural Bank remains very positive about the future of agriculture.”

The concluding session for the day was again machinery focused: harvester fire prevention and management in particular. Short presentations from Richard Nagorcka or Horsham Hydraulics, Frank Burchell of Banyena, Zach Holmes of O’Connors Farm Machinery and Rod Caldow of WFI were followed by a Q&A panel of all four presenters.  

O’Connors branch manager Zach Holmes said the reason they’ve invested in this area is to “protect machinery and crops, prevent harvester downtime and avoid any potential personal safety issues,”

Mr Holmes continued “The Muster II fire suppression system senses a fire and provides 36 second to get to a safer area eg. lower stubble loads prior to the machine shutting down.”
The day concluded with sundowner refreshments provided by BCG. Many took the opportunity to catch up with old and new friends and reflect on the day and what they had learned.
BCG expressed thanks to funding bodies for supporting the research, site hosts for their ongoing support of BCG and to Sea Lake’s Tyrrell College who provided excellent catering at the event.

BCG members who were unable to attend the field day will be able to access audio recordings from the BCG members only portal of the BCG website in coming weeks. For details, or to become a member, phone BCG on (03) 5492 2787.