Dry conditions force crop management rethink
Author: Toni Somes | Date: 18 Sep 2018
New South Wales grain growers are reconsidering their crop management options as dry conditions threaten grain yields and profitability.
With many growers weighing up the economics of baling, grazing or harvesting their crops, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is committed to playing a vital role providing access to the latest research data and relevant agronomic advice.
As a grower and agricultural consultant based in southern NSW, GRDC Northern Panel chair John Minogue is keenly aware of the challenges facing growers this season and encouraged growers to take a flexible and considered approach to their end-of-season management.
“Like many southern NSW growers, we are currently weighing up whether to put livestock into crops, cut for hay or take them through to grain and to make the best decision, it’s important that we have all the information,” Mr Minogue said.
“The GRDC northern panel empathises with the dilemmas facing growers because of the dry. The wider community experience is mirrored on the farms of panellists, given that many of us are growers and advisers – we aren’t watching from afar, many of us are experiencing it ourselves.
“I personally try not to just live in the moment. While it’s certainly dry now, I try to focus on the fact that with the right information, we can still make proactive decisions and turn negatives into positives.
“The key is to make strategic decisions with consideration for long-term management goals. What we do now can significantly influence our business in 2019 so we need to consider the costs and benefits associated with various management options, such as nutrient removal and the value of ground cover.”
Recognising this is a critical time for decision making the GRDC is joining with NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) next week to offer southern NSW growers and advisors the opportunity to discuss crop management during a Grower Breakfast Forum at Henty Machinery Field Days this week.
The forum on Wednesday (September 19) from 9am – 10:30am and will include presentations on seasonal decision-making related to canola and cereal biomass, decision-making support tools such as the salvaging crops for fodder, grain or grazing calculator, and the measuring the nutritional value of crops used for fodder calculator. Laptops will be available at the GRDC site for the duration of the field days, enabling growers to utilise the calculators with researcher support.
NSW DPI’s Leader Southern Pastures Nigel Phillips, who will discuss the salvaging crops for fodder, grain or grazing calculator during the forum, reiterated the importance of growers having a logical decision-making framework that accounts for various economic and farming system consequences.
“It’s important to understand the economic costs and benefits of a decision, any animal health risks as well as the long-term consequences in areas such as impact on the paddock, ground cover and availability of standing feed over summer,” he said.
“Having a good decision-making framework in place can help growers determine priorities across the farm and spread risk. It’s also beneficial to record what decisions were made and why, what action was taken and what the consequences were so that the information and learnings are there for next time.”
The GRDC NSW DPI Grower Breakfast Forum will be held at the GRDC site, 887 888 block R, and is open to all those involved with the grains industry. A complimentary breakfast will be provided and places are limited. To register, contact Brenda Ogden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6938 1999.
Growers and advisers, who are unable to attend the forum are welcome to talk directly with NSW DPI researchers at the GRDC site for the duration of the field days. Researchers on site will include: Dr Aaron Preston (weeds) and Dr Audrey Leo (canola diseases) on tomorrow; 18; Dr Felicity Harris (cereals) and Eric Koetz (weeds/nutrition) on Wednesday; and Brad Baxter (cereal diseases) and Mark Richards (pulses) on Thursday.
Additionally, a range of useful resources are available for growers and advisers including:
- NSW Department of Primary Industries: Salvaging crops for fodder, grain or grazing – costs and income calculator https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/broadacre-crops/crop-salvage-calculator
- GRDC Canola Hay and Silage Fact Sheet
- The Australian Fodder Industry Association website https://www.afia.org.au
- GRDC Mental Health resource hub
- GrainGrowers website: Drought information kit https://www.graingrowers.com.au/drought-information-kit/
- GRDC Ground Cover article: Plan ahead for grain versus hay contingencies
Bernadette York, NSW DPI
0427 773 785
Toni Somes, GRDC
0436 622 645
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