Grain growers tune in for tips in a tough season

Author: | Date: 25 Sep 2018

image of Nigel Phillips
NSW DPI Leader Southern Pastures, Nigel Phillips, believes it is critical growers and advisers have an action plan and understand the economic costs and benefits of their management decisions during a tough season. Photo GRDC

Grain growers and advisers dealing with tough seasonal conditions in southern New South Wales can now tune in for timely advice to guide crop management decisions thanks to a short four-part specialist podcast series developed by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

The podcasts feature specialist researchers recorded as part of a joint GRDC NSW DPI Tough Season Questions Answered grower forum held during the recent Henty Machinery Field Days.

GRDC Grower Relations Manager North, Richard Holzknecht, said the podcasts were recorded to give growers and advisers access to vital information as they consider their crop management options with dry conditions continuing to threaten grain yields and profitability.

“Many southern NSW growers and advisers are currently weighing up the economics of conserving as hay or silage, grazing or harvesting their crops and the GRDC and NSW DPI are committed to playing a role providing access to the latest research data and relevant agronomic advice,” Mr Holzknecht said.

“We understand it has been a very challenging season and the more information growers have, the better positioned they are to make strategic decisions that consider long-term management implications.

“These podcasts have been developed to add to the resources available for growers and advisers and offer tips for considering the costs and benefits associated with various management options, such as nutrient removal and the value of ground cover.”

The first podcast in this series, Assessing Biomass in the Paddock, features NSW DPI Cereal Physiologist Dr Felicity Harris and highlights the need for growers and advisers to identify biomass in paddocks so informed decisions can be made to either take a crop through to harvest, cut for fodder or silage, or consider grazing options.

In this podcast Dr Harris encourages growers to measure biomass at both a paddock and farm scale and be aware of any underlying damage caused by frost events.

In the second podcast, NSW DPI Leader Southern Pastures, Nigel Phillips, explains why A tough season needs an action plan.

In his podcast Mr Phillips encourages growers to think about options and reminds them that crops impacted by drought and or frost could still be valuable as a livestock feed.

He explains the NSW DPI salvaging crops for fodder, grain or grazing calculator and reiterates 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,” Mr Phillips 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.”

NSW DPI Feed Lab Analytical Chemist, Richard Meyer, features in the third podcast, Optimising Feed Quality, where he applies learnings from past droughts and frosts events to this season to assist in determining the feed quality of a crop.

Mr Meyer also discusses the value of getting accurate feed test samples from drought-stressed and frost-damaged crops to provide a valuable reference point for when to cut for hay or silage to optimise feed quality and potential return.

The final episode in this short podcast series features NSW DPI Research Agronomist, Graeme Sandral, talking about the impacts of drought on Crop Nutrient Removal and Seed Quality for next season.

In this podcast Mr Sandral explains how decisions made this season will potentially impact crop nutrition and fertiliser management for 2019.

He highlights issues such as low nutrient removal in failed or low yielding crops, and reminds growers and advisers that the nitrogen and phosphorus left in the soil needs to be factored into next season’s fertiliser budget.

Mr Sandral also discusses the importance of being proactive when it comes to accessing seed for next year’s sowing operations. He emphasised the need for seed germination and vigour testing ahead of next season’s planting as well as effective storage.

The GRDC NSW DPI Tough Season Questions Answered podcasts are available here

The GRDC has significant online resources available to growers and advisers making crop management decisions during a difficult season on its Dealing with the Dry web page available at available at or

The NSW DPI also have extensive drought information available at

Contact Details

For Interviews

Bernadette York, NSW DPI
0427 773 785


Toni Somes, GRDC
0436 622 645