The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is using its 'bush telegraph' to deliver grassroots research funding to improve farm profitability in Western Australia.
This bush network is the GRDC's Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN).
It brings growers and industry people together to identify issues critical to ensuring the prosperity of the grains industry in their area and to initiate local projects
Issues raised at RCSN meetings are also fed into the GRDC western regional panel, which helps to develop and prioritise the GRDC's research, development and extension (RD&E) investment portfolio.
One of WA's GRDC RCSN representatives in WA is grower Tony White, from Miling north-west of Perth, who operates a 5000 hectare mixed farming enterprise consisting of wheat, barley, lupins, canola and oats for hay, as well as Merino sheep and beef cattle.
Mr White, who is on the Kwinana West RCSN, is active in seeking out and sharing information with other growers.
"I'm hungry for information, and I think the best way of getting information is to talk to other farmers," he said.
"By having networks, we can get together, discuss similar problems, understand others' operations and hopefully get a start at making improvements."
Mr White said the introduction of the RCSN initiative had sped up the funding process for GRDC research projects targeting local issues.
"I think the response time from the GRDC is a lot quicker now, and especially now we've got the budget for the RCSNs we can really tackle local issues quite quickly," he said.
On his own property, one of the key agronomic issues Mr White has been addressing has been increasingly subsoil acidity.
After listening to other growers in his area, he is incorporating lime that is encouraging deeper root growth in his crops.
"We've been putting a lot of lime on in recent years, and that's been turning our production around," Mr White said.
"We try and put on 1000 tonnes each year, over the property, and it goes on at about2-2.5t/ha."
"With declining rainfall events and more summer moisture, we can actually get our plant roots down now to access that summer rainfall."
Mr White's liming treatment program is bolstering yields even in low rainfall years.
Listen to a GRDC Radio Podcast profiling Mr White, at "Oats and barley big improvers".
The RCSN initiative was established by the GRDC to link growers, agribusiness and researchers and to complement its National Grains Industry RD&E Strategy.
There are five networks in Western Australia aligned to port zones and these groups are meeting during February 2016.
Recently, 'open RCSN meetings' have been introduced and all WA growers are encouraged to attend the 2016 meetings to share ideas, hear from researchers and attend field trials.
Information discussed is fed into to the subsequent RCSN meetings and the western panel.
More information about the RCSN initiative and meeting dates is available. Contact the GRDC RCSN coordinator Julianne Hill on email or 0447 261 607 for more information.
Toni Somes, Cox Inall Communications
0427 878 387