Regional network rounds up growers' cropping concerns

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 18 Nov 2015

Jen Lillecrapp, Michael Chilvers, Keith Pengilley

Grain growers across the southern cropping region are not being left to their own devices when confronted with issues within their farming systems.

A broad and diverse network of growers, advisors and researchers is helping to identify potential research, development and extension (RD&E) investments and actions to meet the challenges and opportunities for improving farm profitability.

Since its launch in 2012, the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSN) initiative has enabled growers and industry stakeholders to influence the GRDC’s investment portfolio and enhance the local delivery of RD&E. 

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley says the RCSNs were established to provide advice to the GRDC Southern Regional Panel and they have been successful in enhancing the corporation’s appreciation of region-specific challenges and its ability to respond in a timely and appropriate manner.

“The GRDC footprint of engagement with industry is the largest it ever has been,” Mr Pengilley said. This gives the Panel a much greater insight into the important issues affecting growers and it allows us to make the right investments that will best address these issues and result in the adoption of improved farming practices.”

The networks currently consist of 42 growers, agronomists, consultants and researchers who have strong connections with growers and other grains industry stakeholders and are supported by skilled and experienced facilitators. Southern Panel members are also represented on the RCSNs.

Each network is focused on farming systems in a particular production zone – low rainfall, medium rainfall, high rainfall and irrigation – and members liaise with the wider grower community in their respective zone.

From mid 2016, in alignment with GRDC regional boundary and operational changes, the southern regional irrigation zone RCSN will cease to exist. The composition of the remaining three RCSNs will also transition to reflect the new GRDC boundaries.

With all of New South Wales being incorporated into GRDC’s northern cropping region (prior to September 1 this year southern NSW was part of the southern cropping region), current RCSN members who are based in southern NSW are being given the opportunity to be involved in informing the GRDC’s northern RD&E investments.

In future, the three southern RCSNs will comprise members from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania – the three states which now make up the southern cropping region.

In recent times, three new members have been appointed to the RCSNs as they currently operate in the southern region:

  • Ben Leditschke from Tasmania has joined the high rainfall zone RCSN. Mr Leditschke works for Serve-Ag Pty Ltd, an agricultural advice and product supply company servicing growers throughout the southern Midlands, Bothwell, Derwent and Coal Valley regions. With 20 years of agricultural experience, he has a good understanding and knowledge of HRZ farming systems.
  • Rowan Paulet, a grower from the Flynn’s Creek district in Victoria’s northern Gippsland region, has also joined the high rainfall zone RCSN. His family’s mixed farming operation includes winter and summer grain crops, oilseed and fodder crops. Mr Paulet is a GRDC-funded Nuffield Scholar, having studied the integration of cropping and livestock enterprises.
  • Roger Bolte from Wyalong in New South Wales has been appointed to the low rainfall zone RCSN. A third generation farmer in the local region, Mr Bolte has been involved in the family farming operation for more than 30 years. The family’s current cropping operation encompasses wheat, canola, barley, lentils, faba beans for brown manure and vetch for hay.

Priority issues identified by the RCSNs have been and are being addressed through the GRDC’s investment processes.

Mr Pengilley said it was rewarding for RCSN members to now be seeing their efforts resulting in funded projects that have on-farm impact. Members will monitor and evaluate the progress and outputs from these projects.

“If growers are aware of an issue at a farm or local level, I strongly encourage them to make contact with their nearest RCSN member,” Mr Pengilley said.

“A list of members, contact details for facilitators and more information about the RCSNs can be found at the RCSN homepage

For Interviews

Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Panel
0448 015539


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675 100

Region South