GRDC WithTheGrain - Southern Extension Newsletter. Can't see the email click here to view it online.


Medium Rainfall Zone

Welcome from Craig Ruchs,
Manager, Grower Services - South

Happy new year and welcome to the first edition of the GRDC’s WithTheGrain™ for 2017. Whilst harvest is still continuing for some of you I hope you have had a chance to take a little time off over the Christmas period to spend time with family and friends. Inclement weather has made for a challenging harvest and caused some frustrations. Despite this, growers recorded some record yields across the southern region in 2016, the downside being disappointing cereal commodity pricing. However, with a new year brings new hope and an opportunity to implement the combined learnings from previous seasons.

Photo of Craig Ruchs

In late December, I announced the composition of the three Southern Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSN) and all of us here at GRDC are excited by the diversity in skills, knowledge, experience and geographical reach of network members. With over 70 applications for only 38 available positions, some very difficult decisions had to be made but I believe that ultimately, we have achieved the right mix of growers, advisers and researchers who will work hard to identify and prioritise the issues effecting the enduring profitability of grain growers across Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

Supporting the southern RCSNs is no simple task and it was my pleasure to also appoint Jen Lillecrapp in the new role of overall coordinator of the entire southern RCSN. Many of you will know Jen and have witnessed first-hand her passion and dedication for the RCSN initiative. Ably assisting Jen and myself will be John Stuchbery and Barry Mudge, leading the low-rainfall RCSN, Kate Burke, heading up the medium-rainfall RCSN and Cam Nicholson, leading the high-rainfall RCSN.

On behalf of the GRDC, I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all of those that expressed an interest in becoming an RCSN member as well as those outgoing members for their significant past contribution.

As we jump head-on into 2017, whole farm planning will be as important as ever, particularly when it comes to farm business management. The GRDC has a number of useful resources to assist you with this, one of which is the Farming the Business Manual developed by Mike Krause. The GRDC has also invested in a project (RDP00013) assessing the key drivers of a highly profitable farm business. This project challenges some existing assumptions and identifies gross margin optimisation, development of a low cost business model, people and management and risk management as being integral to success. Read on in the Farm Business section of this e-newsletter if you would like to know how the top 20 per cent of farm businesses are able to generate 1.5 to 3 times the returns of the average.

Also in this edition, we have some insights in to soil microbial activity over summer and some advice on soil testing and snail control. Don’t forget to lock in the dates for the 2017 GRDC Grains Research Updates and Farm Business Updates. For more information head to the GRDC events page or give myself or another GRDC staff member a call.

All the best for season 2017.

Craig Ruchs, 0477 710 813

RCSN update

RCSN profile: Kate Burke

Consultant Kate Burke from Echuca in Victoria has been appointed as the lead for the southern region’s medium-rainfall zone Regional Cropping Solutions Network from January.

With a PhD in agronomy, Kate has been involved in the grains industry since 1990. During that time, she has been a consultant for 12 years, with a client base spanning the low and medium-rainfall zones of western Victoria.

Read the full article
  Photo of Kate Burke

Feature article

New RCSNs bolster GRDC footprint in the south 

Photo of the The new southern region RCSN leadership team
  The GRDC’s footprint of engagement is as strong as it has ever been with the recent appointment of the southern Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSNs).

Jen Lillecrapp, previously a facilitator of the high-rainfall and medium-rainfall zone RCSNs, has been appointed the coordinator of the entire southern region RCSN initiative.

Read the full article

The science of grain growing

What’s happening to my soil microbes over summer?

Summer rainfall can have a massive bearing on changes in soil microbial activity, and growers can help to promote greater microbial activity by reducing tillage and soil compaction. Adopting grazed pastures can also increase soil organic matter and microbial activity in the long-term.

Above-average rainfall for many areas across the southern region throughout the 2016 growing season produced high-yielding crops with large amounts of plant biomass both above and below the soil surface - and with it, a large microbial population.

Read the full article
  Photo of soil in hand

Farm business

GRDC project uncovers key drivers to retain 30 per cent of turnover as profit

Photo of Rural Directions’ Simon Vogt
  What makes some grain growing businesses more profitable than others?

A GRDC project has found four key factors which separate the top 20 per cent of grain businesses -and it has little to do with location or size. Top businesses in the GRDC’s southern region are consistently retaining 30 per cent of turnover as net profit.

Read the full article

Regional agronomy

Early planning critical to controlling blackleg

Canola growers across the southern region are asked to be mindful of the likely threat of blackleg to crops in the 2017 growing season after an outbreak of the disease in 2016.

There are predictions that the area planted to canola in 2017 will increase due to the current low prices for cereal grain, making it more difficult to sow canola into paddocks which are the recommended 500 metres away from the previous year’s canola stubble.

Read the full article
  Photo of Dr Steve Marcroft

Soil testing the gauge to watch in maximising return on fertiliser spend

Photo of Dr Mike McLaughlin
  Soil testing should be treated as an investment, not a cost, according to GRDC Southern Regional Panel member and deputy chair Dr Mike McLaughlin.

Dr McLaughlin, a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, says soil testing is important because it helps growers to target inputs to where they are needed most.

Read the full article

Combine cultural control and baiting in bumper snail year

Researchers expect 2017 to be a bumper year for snails, following record rainfalls and yields across much of the southern region in 2016, prompting a reminder for growers to combine cultural controls with well-timed baiting for best results.

South Australian Research and Development Institute researcher Dr Michael Nash says the population build-up is a result of the high rainfall corresponding with increased stubble loads and bumper crops.

Read the full article
  Photo of snails

GRDC resources and events

Southern region agronomy update

Upcoming events
Don't miss out on these GRDC events in upcoming months

Useful Resources

© Copyright GRDC 2017


Any recommendations, suggestions or opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Grains Research and Development Corporation. No person should act on the basis of the contents of this publication without first obtaining specific, independent, professional advice. The Corporation and contributors to this publication may identify products by proprietary or trade names to help readers identify particular types of products. We do not endorse or recommend the products of any manufacturer referred to. Other products may perform as well as or better than those specifically referred to. The GRDC will not be liable for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred or arising by reason of any person using or relying on the information in this publication. CAUTION: RESEARCH ON UNREGISTERED PESTICIDE USE. Any research with unregistered pesticides or of unregistered products reported in this document does not constitute a recommendation for that particular use by the authors or the authors organisations. All pesticide applications must accord with the currently registered label for that particular pesticide, crop, pest and region.


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Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC)
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