Crop tour takes in central west NSW

Author: Rachel Bowman | Date: 05 Sep 2013

Will Martel, Penny Heuston, Maurie Street and Joe Mason stand in front of a paddock of yellow canola at "Spicer's Run" in Spicer's Creek, NSW.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) northern panel took to the farms and crops of central west NSW this week (3-5 September) on its annual fact-finding spring tour.

The newly-formed panel for 2013-15 visited five farms and the Trangie Research Station to hear from growers, advisers and researchers, and discuss research priorities and needs.

James Clark, GRDC northern panel chair says a key part of the tour was viewing GRDC-funded Grains Orana Alliance (GOA) trials under the guidance of GOA chief executive officer, Maurie Street.

The panel includes Warren-based agronomist, Penny Heuston and Wellington grower, Will Martel. The pair organised visits to farms including the Mason family’s “Spicers Run”, Spicers Creek; Paspaley Group’s “Kurrajong Park” with manager Andrew McFadyen; James and Penny Hassall at “Kiewa”, Gilgandra; the Kilby’s property, “Inglewood”; and the Freeth family’s “Quandong”, Gilgandra.

Kelly Becker, Jack Williamson, Glenn Shepherd and James Hassall stand smiling in a canola field on a sunny day.

GRDC northern panellists Kelly Becker, Theodore, Queensland and Jack Williamson, Moree, NSW (pictured right) compare crop notes with Glenn Shepherd, IMAG, Dubbo and grower James Hassall on his Gilgandra district property, “Kiewa”.

To round off the tour, the panel toured Fletchers International grain handling facility followed by a meeting to discuss and prioritise production issues for the region.

“These issues include the rising scourge of herbicide resistance which is certainly gaining a foothold within the region but the good news is many growers are aware how serious the issue is,” Mr Clark says.

“Other issues include the limitations of breakcrop options including pulses and problem weeds such as feathertop Rhodes grass, windmill grass and fleabane.”

He says the GRDC northern panel tours twice a year as a “check and balance” to make ensure it is working on the right issues for growers and investing growers’ funds where they need them most.

“An important part of the tour is also determining emerging issues to ensure we’re in front of the ball.

“Growers have raised nutrition as a major issue as they look at the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen they are putting on and the timing, in particular.

“The varying seasons make these decisions difficult as in wet seasons the nutrients may be in the top of the soil profile which is very different to years like this year where there has been an exceptionally dry start and growers are wondering what response they will get out of their nitrogen.”

Mr Clark was particularly keen to question growers on where and how they currently receive information from GRDC and how this could be improved to hasten uptake of new technologies and research recommendations.

The panel also includes Loretta Serafin, deputy panel chair and NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) agronomist, Tamworth, NSW; Keith Harris, crop consultant to Romani Pastoral Co, Liverpool Plains, NSW; Rob Taylor, grower, Macalister, Queensland; John Sheppard, wheat breeder, Toowoomba, Queensland; Steve Thomas, GRDC executive manager research programs, Canberra, ACT; Kelly Becker, agronomist and grower, Theodore, Queensland; Jules Dixon, research manager, Avalon, NSW; and Jack Williamson, grower and agronomist, Moree, NSW.

Kim Halber, GRDC board member and Sharon O’Keeffe, GRDC manager regional grower services – north also joined the tour.

For more information on GRDC-funded research, visit


Caption: GRDC northern panellists Kelly Becker, Theodore, Queensland and Jack Williamson, Moree, NSW (pictured right) compare crop notes with Glenn Shepherd, IMAG, Dubbo and grower James Hassall on his Gilgandra district property, “Kiewa”.

Caption: GRDC northern panellists Will Martel (left), Wellington, NSW and Penny Heuston, Warren, NSW inspect GRDC-funded GOA trials with GOA chief executive officer, Maurie Street, Dubbo, NSW and grower Joe Mason (right), “Spicer’s Run”, Spicers Creek, NSW as part of the GRDC northern panel spring tour. 

Contact Details

For Interviews

James Clark
GRDC northern panel chair
0427 545 212


Rachel Bowman
Senior Consultant, Cox Inall Communications
07 3846 4380   
0412 290 673

Region North, South, West