A three-year term on the GRDC’s Regional Cropping Solutions Networks provided Jon Midwood with a desire to extend his involvement in the GRDC by becoming a member of the GRDC Southern Regional Panel.
“I joined the Panel because after spending three years on the high rainfall zone (HRZ) RCSN. I felt that as a group we had made a significant impact on some of the key issues in this zone and that joining the Panel would enable me to contribute further to this and at a higher level,” Jon says.
Jon has worked in agriculture for the past 28 years, both in the United Kingdom and in Australia. He graduated from Harper Adams University College in the UK and then spent 13 years working for a large UK farm management company.
In 2004, he moved to Geelong and managed Grainsearch, a grower-funded company evaluating European wheat and barley varieties for the high rainfall zone (HRZ). Jon set up his own consulting business in 2007, providing independent agronomy advice and consultancy to the agricultural industry in the HRZ, which included managing the commercial contract trials for Southern Farming Systems.
In 2010, Jon was appointed the chief executive of SFS, based at Inverleigh in Victoria’s south-west, and in that role has had considerable involvement in the GRDC’s research, development and extension agenda.
SFS, one of the largest farming systems groups in the southern region with five branches covering southern Victoria (Gippsland and the Western District) and Tasmania, is an active GRDC research partner.
Jon says herbicide resistance is the biggest issue confronting growers in his region and beyond.
“Through GRDC funding, SFS undertook some random roadside survey work in 2009 and the results were released in 2012. Those results really put southern Victoria on the map in terms of herbicide resistance in what was a relatively young cropping area – that’s a big concern for us.
“Learning to manage our subsoil constraints and managing crop nutrition in a high yielding environment with a highly variable climate are other concerns. Subsoil constraints are another huge issue, and water logging is a particular problem.
“Crop nutrition is an area we’re also focused on. We’ve got fantastic yield potential in our environment and learning how to get the right level of nutrition on a crop and get a return out of it is pretty challenging.”
Jon says the GRDC and SFS have put into place initiatives to address these major concerns.
For example, an integrated weed management site has been established at Lake Bolac and a high rainfall zone harvest weed seed project has been activated.
“Projects on subsoil constraints have given us some really good results but the adoption by growers has been poor so we need to take the next step in that area. And nutrition is also receiving plenty of GRDC funding attention through existing and proposed projects.”
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