A network of moisture probes and weather stations across the Kimba District on the eastern Eyre Peninsula in South Australia went live this week.
The network set up by Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group (BFIG), was established thanks to funding from a number of organisations, including national grain farming representative body, GrainGrowers. BFIG is one of the 26 Farming System Groups (FSGs) which GrainGrowers is sponsoring this year as part of its Partnership Opportunity program.
Six weather stations have been strategically positioned across the Kimba District on different soil types and to account for the local variance in weather conditions. It is hoped that the network can continue to grow over the next 18 months, with a further four stations planned to provide more thorough coverage of the area. Each of the existing sites is linked to the next to allow members of BFIG to view the data across the district, assisting them to make agronomic and marketing decisions on their own farming properties.
BFIG has observed that in many areas including the eastern Eyre Peninsula, adoption of moisture probes and the inclusion of that data into business decisions has been relatively limited despite its potential gains.
“This project aims to provide a coordinated approach that allows growers to co-invest to obtain local data,” said BFIG President, Andrew Baldock, a grain farmer at Kimba and Buckleboo.
“The information is supported by BFIG through workshops outlining how best to utilise some of the data. BFIG members can access the Moisture Probe and Weather station data on their PC or mobile devices through a login and password they receive when paying their annual BFIG membership,” Mr Baldock said.
“The primary aim of this project is to develop a network of soil moisture probes and weather stations that allows BFIG members to access accurate, readily available and cost-effective information about stored soil moisture levels on key soil types, and to provide up to date weather data for better informed spray and harvest decisions,” he said.
GrainGrowers Regional Coordinator David Evans said that for many years GrainGrowers had been a strong supporter of Farming Systems Groups, such as BFIG, which focus on exploring ways to enhance the profitability, sustainability and efficiency of the grower members in their regions.
“Buckleboo Farming Improvement Group produces amazing results each year, in research trials and extension,” said Mr Evans.
“GrainGrowers is proud to have had the opportunity to assist Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group in this initiative as it is in accordance with our vision to develop and promote a more efficient, sustainable and profitable grains industry for all Australian grain farmers.
“Supporting farming systems groups is an important part of achieving our vision and we welcome the chance to be involved,” he said.
“The Partnership Opportunity program helps us connect with growers, as we develop forward focussed policies for the industry on such key issues as research, development and extension, and telecommunications.
“They also help us ensure that the positions we take forward as a Representative Organisation of the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) are well informed and reflect the challenges facing growers in cropping areas such as the upper Eyre Peninsula of South Australia.
“GrainGrowers works with these groups and also provides opportunities for young farmers in these regions to develop their leadership skills through our Innovation Generation conference and the Australian Grain Leaders Program. Listening to the voices of young farmers in turn helps set the future direction of the industry.
“GrainGrowers will soon announce the farming systems groups which will be supported under the Partnership Opportunity program in 2019.
“We thank Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group for considering GrainGrowers as a partner.”
BFIG was established in 1997 and currently has a financial membership of around 45 members. BFIG undertakes a number of projects and activities and has very close ties with the Minnipa Agricultural Research Centre, the Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) and Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula’s Management Board.
Currently BFIG is in its third year of a major subsoils amelioration project, and has projects running in the areas of export hay and applying precision agriculture to livestock enterprises. Additionally, BFIG hosts a number of events including workshops, regional bus trips and an annual crop walk. Last year’s crop walk, supported by GrainGrowers, was based around strategic tillage and attracted more than 140 growers, researchers and industry professionals from across the state.