Catching up with GRDC Managing Director Steve Jefferies (right) at the recent Southern RCSN meeting are grain-growing RCSN members (from left) Bruce Macague, Rochester (Victoria); Michael Chilvers, Evandale (Tasmania); and Mark Modra, Port Lincoln (SA).
A fresh set of “eyes and ears” across Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania is helping to ensure that issues having the most impact on grain grower profitability are prioritised for attention through targeted research, development and extension (RD&E) activities.
Members of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN), recently appointed for the next two-year term, have begun fulfilling their roles of assisting the GRDC in developing ideas for RD&E investments that will create enduring profitability for growers.
RCSN members for the coming term recently came together for the first time and have already identified more than 130 constraints and opportunities impacting on the profitability of growers in the low, medium and high rainfall zones of the southern cropping region, and have prioritised these based on scale, financial impact and frequency of occurrence.
RCSN coordinator Jen Lillecrapp says some of those issues relate to what occurred during the 2016 cropping season and the flow-on effects, including the impact of waterlogging and high yielding crops, and greater disease pressure emanating from the wet growing season.
“Other issues identified are those which affect long-term profitability, such as the potential loss of glyphosate as a cost effective weed management tool and limited access to new chemical tools for management of weeds, pests and diseases,” Mrs Lillecrapp says.
“The complexities in nitrogen management, high-value legume options in areas where pulses are not presently well adapted, improving overall understanding of profit and risk in grain-growing enterprises, and integration of livestock into farming systems were also among the top longer-term issues put forward by RCSN members.”
The RCSN will now begin the journey of further collaboration with GRDC staff and the Southern Regional Panel to better understand the finer detail of selected high priority issues. This will include a review of past and present projects in order to determine the need for future investment and (where applicable) type of RD&E response required to provide growers with applied solutions.
The Southern RCSN for the next two years comprises 38 members – 21 growers, 13 advisers and four researchers – who are spread throughout Tasmania, Victoria and SA. Southern Regional Panel members are also appointed to each RCSN rainfall zone (low, medium and high) which are headed up by four network leads and Mrs Lillecrapp in the role of coordinator.
GRDC Southern Regional Manager Grower Services, Craig Ruchs, says the composition and leadership of the RCSN for this term will help ensure constraints and opportunities in the southern region are promptly identified, captured and effectively addressed by the GRDC.
“The RCSN is a diverse network of passionate individuals who offer a wide range of skills and experience and broad geographical representation,” Mr Ruchs says.
“They are industry leaders and have extensive linkages with a range of grain industry organisations and are involved in a diversity of dryland and irrigated farming systems from districts across the low, medium and high rainfall zones – the RCSN is a highly-valued GRDC partner and grains industry asset.”
Mr Ruchs says the RCSN initiative provides a platform for industry engagement and is another “check and balance” to ensure grower levies target areas of greatest need.
The role of the RCSN has evolved over recent years to now include a greater focus upon identifying and describing both short-term and longer-term issues, strategic review of existing RD&E investments and identifying opportunities to improve the adoption of research outcomes which will deliver financial benefits to grain growers.
Growers, advisers and other grains industry personnel wishing to raise an issue via the RCSN are encouraged to contact the network leads whose details are on the GRDC website.
Jen Lillecrapp, RCSN co-ordinator
Craig Ruchs, GRDC
Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli