The 21st Birchip Cropping Group Future Farmers Expo, held at the Birchip P-12 School on Wednesday, provided growers and industry with the opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics, including weather and machinery.
The event kicked off on the cold, drizzly morning with a climate outlook from Bureau of Meteorology Senior Climatologist, Catherine Ganter who explained the influence of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) on rainfall in southern Australia, plus indicated that the outlook for July, August and September suggests slightly drier conditions.
Data access and management was a key theme for the day with Minyip farmer Paul Petering and BCG Technical Officer Chris Cook providing insight into how weather stations are assisting farm decision making. BCG CEO Chris Sounness explained how others can become involved in the weather station network and outlined the potential for a farmer data co-operative.
Continuing with the farm data theme, Kaniva grower and Nuffield Scholar Jonathan Dyer demonstrated how yield and protein monitors are demonstrating a return on investment in his business.
A panel session on innovative approaches to incorporating family members into the farm business was a generated plenty of discussion on the day. Kirby Kaye (Settler and Sons), Karen Inkster (Aubrey and Areegra) and Matt Cain (Dad’s Oats) discussed how non-farming family members could bring diverse skill sets gained from other career experiences into the farm business. This has allowed their businesses to value add, diversify and risk manage, all while taking a keen focus on informing the consumer.
Machinery was also a hot topic for the day with Simon Craig from Farm 360 joined by Rupanyup farmer David Matthews and Kooloonong farmer Alistair Murdoch, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of owning, co-owning and contracting machinery.
“Simon and the panel raised some critical points for discussion that will help people identify the true cost of owning different types of machinery and also consider alternate ways of accessing machinery while being aware of potential pitfalls,” Mr Sounness said.
The BCG Technical Bulletin, a highly-valued BCG ‘members only’ publication, went live on stage’with BCG research manager Claire Browne facilitating a session with regular contributors, Lubeck farmer Ian Taylor, Normanville farmer Bronwyn Hunt and Simon Craig.
Different approaches to nutrition management given the recent dry conditions was discussed in depth and the panel also stressed the importance of correct identification of insects before deciding to spray to minimise harming beneficial insect populations.