With technology moving at a rapid pace, grain producer Jules Alvaro believes it is an exciting time for agriculture and has taken her involvement in the industry to the next level.
Ms Alvaro, who farms north-east of Merredin in Western Australia’s eastern grainbelt, is a new member of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) western regional panel.
“I see this role as an opportunity to obtain a fantastic overview of the future of the Australian grains industry and to contribute to its strategic direction for the future,” she said.
Along with West River grain grower Andy Duncan, wheat geneticist Greg Rebetzke from CSIRO and GRDC executive manager Stuart Kearns, Ms Alvaro was appointed to the 11-person panel in September.
Returning panellists include Dunn Rock grower Peter Roberts (chairman), agronomy and farming systems specialist Mike Ewing (deputy chairman), Mingenew growers Paul Kelly and Darrin Lee, agricultural consultant Bill Ryan, Esperance grower Gemma Walker and well known WA agronomic and agribusiness advisor Chris Wilkins.
The panel system is a key strength of the GRDC, feeding regional priorities into the organisation and assessing funding proposals.
Ms Alvaro is involved in all aspects of the 5400 hectare cropping business that she operates with her husband Pep - producing wheat, barley, canola and lupins.
“Our business philosophy is to always look to the future in a positive light,” she said.
“Living in a marginal area, we need to be prepared for events such as drought, and it is essential that we are also capable of making changes to our cropping program on the run”.
Ms Alvaro, who also grew up in WA’s eastern grainbelt - on a farm north of Mukinbudin, is a firm believer in farm businesses keeping up with technology while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
“We are finding that it is essential to be highly disciplined in our strategy, organisation and management,” she said.
“There can be large variations in commodity prices mixed with extreme seasonal variations.
“This can put pressure on our cash flow, and it is imperative that we keep our budgets tight without skimping on the necessary expenditure and investment to build our business.”
Making the best possible use of available moisture is a key factor in maintaining profitability on their predominantly heavy soil types.
“We’re trying to get the most out of our moisture every year as the seasons are becoming more volatile,” Ms Alvaro said.
“We also seem to be having very hot Septembers and dry periods in between seeding and winter.”
Ms Alvaro is keen to help represent growers from WA’s lower rainfall zones through her role on the GRDC western regional panel.
“I really hope that I can put some serious input into dryland projects and enable farming in these areas to remain strong into the future,” she said.
Ms Alvaro believes her extensive experience and networks in the grains industry will help her contribute effectively to the panel.
She is currently the WA sub-coordinator for Partners in Grain, and a founding member of Agricultural Women Wheatbelt East (AWWE).
A video interview of Ms Alvaro talking about her role on the GRDC western regional panel is available on the GRDC YouTube channel.
The GRDC plans and invests in RD&E for the Australian grains industry. Its primary objective is to support effective competition by Australian grain growers in global grain markets, through enhanced profitability and sustainability.
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Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
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