Australia’s crop production down, following a record-breaking 2016-17

Coming off the back of a record-breaking 2016-17, winter crop production is forecast to drop by 33 per cent in 2017–18 to 40.1 million tonnes, due largely to an assumed fall in average yields.

According to the Australian crop report, released today by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), the season opening was mixed, with total area planted to winter crops forecast to fall by around 1 per cent in 2017–18 to 22.5 million hectares.

Acting ABARES Executive Director, Peter Gooday, said that with the expected falls in average yields, wheat production is forecast to fall by 31 per cent to 24.2 million tonnes and barley is tipped to decrease by 39 per cent to 8.1 million tonnes.

“While down on the record production of 2016-17, the latest estimates still paint a positive picture for Australia’s cropping sector, with winter crop production forecast to be around the five year average to 2015-16,” Mr Gooday said.

“While the area planted to cereal crops is expected to decrease, the area planted to chickpeas and lentils is forecast to increase.

“The area planted to canola is also forecast to rise in all major producing states, largely reflecting favourable expected returns compared with wheat, oats and barley.”

Mr Gooday added that autumn rainfall was generally favourable in cropping regions in eastern states, which resulted in favourable levels of soil moisture in these regions.

“On the flip side, autumn rainfall was below average in most cropping regions in Western Australia and some key cropping regions in South Australia, which led to unfavourable planting conditions during autumn and early winter in these regions,” Mr Gooday said.

Among other crops, oats production is forecast to decrease by 38 per cent to 1.2 million tonnes and chickpea production is forecast to decrease by 24 per cent to 1.4 million tonnes.

The June edition of the Australian crop report is available at ABARES Publications.

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The cycle of personal resilience

The importance of mental health or, personal resilience, will be a key agenda item at Turf Australia’s national conference this June.

The two-day event from June 5 to 7 will be held in the New South Wales (NSW) Hunter Valley and includes James Greenshields from the Centre for Resilient Leadership presenting his program ‘Put Your Hand Up’. James will specifically addresses the importance of knowing about, understanding, identifying and assisting good mental health in yourself, colleagues and employees.

James has had 17 years of experience as a military officer, including commanding front line soldiers in combat in Afghanistan, before he became the Co-Founder and Director of the Resilient Leaders Foundation eight years ago.

He will address the fact that: “Managing staff on a turf farm and soldiers in a combat zone might seem worlds apart but there are some distinct similarities in ensuring everyone does their job to the best of their ability.”

James stressed that he wanted to help growers identify and then understand issues which cause turbulence in their life (stress) both personally and professionally.

“I want them to be able to take home strategies to make them more efficient and effective in both areas,” he said.

“This is important, because how we approach any situation determines the outcomes. When we are clouded or confused, often that outcome will reflect that. The turf industry consists of many family-based organisation, so there is no divide between the personal and the professional section.

“Therefore without strategies to deal with stresses in these areas more difficulties will subsequently follow – and both the personal and professional life will be impacted.”

James stressed it was not easy to ask for help or know that you needed guidance in certain areas.

“Not only that, partners of husband or wives, are constantly frustrated,” he said.

“There needs to be a happy medium – so my aim is to show delegates the personal and professional way forward.”

For more information visit http://www.turfaustralia.com.au/ or T: (02) 4588 5735

 

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Top comedian Sean Woodland to be key speaker at Turf Australia’s conference dinner next week

After an extensive search Turf Australia is happy to announce that stand-up comedian, Sean Woodland will be the key Conference Dinner speaker next Monday night. Sean has been captivating audiences around Australia and abroad. His material is endearingly relevant as he reveals about comical truths from his own, varied experiences.

Sean has won the Quest for the Best, Australia’s richest comedy competition, and the iconic Crows Nest Hotel comedy competition and was runner-up in the nationally acclaimed Green Faces comedy competition.

Book now for next week’s Turf Australia conference which includes an excellent program of speakers and activities as well as the induction of industry members into the Hall of Fame and a Turf Australia Charity Auction.

visit: www.turfaustralia.com.au

 

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Turf field day offers chance to see – for the first time – automated turf mowing

Growers at this year’s Turf Australia annual conference in the Hunter Valley, which rolls-out next week, will be some of the first in Australia to see automated turf mowing in action.

Queensland-based Robotics Company, SwarmFarm at Emerald, has been working on the project with Turf Queensland and the prototype will be onsite at the field day held at AGTurf Lawn Solutions next Wednesday.

The demonstration will be the first time the robot has been in operation in public following the process of SwarmFarm converting one of its automated robotic platforms to operate a turf mower.

The platform is guided by GPS and eliminates the need for an operator on a tractor to mow turf paddocks and opens door for growers to be able to undertake the more menial of time consuming tasks on farm with a robot.

Don’t miss your chance to see the robot – which is expected to be commercially available to growers within two years – at the conference. Book your place now!

Visit: www.turfaustralia.com.au

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Sunraysia to benefit from $6.8m pest surveillance network

Sunraysia is set to benefit from a $6.8 million Coalition Government funded project to establish an advanced plant pest surveillance network which will monitor and report on threats to major primary production industries, including grains, cotton, horticulture, wine and forestry.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, joined Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad, at the Mildura Field Days today to announce the funding for the Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) project, under the third round of the Coalition Government’s Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit programme.

“This investment directly supports improved returns at the farmgate by providing our farmers with the intelligence they need to guard against biosecurity threats, increase productivity and protect our premium produce,” Minister Joyce said.

“The end result will be a surveillance network that delivers a fast, reliable and cost effective means to identify pests, including endemic pests such as fruit fly, as well as exotic pests such as karnal bunt or Khapra beetle.”

Mr Broad said the network would include automated trapping and sampling technologies that monitored a wide range of endemic and exotic plant pests through advanced technology.

“This is a cutting edge project that links pest modelling with weather forecasting to better track emerging threats. And it will deploy mobile surveillance hubs that allow flexibility in the face of changing industry needs, such as the response to an incursion,” Mr Broad said.

Horticulture Innovation Australia chief executive John Lloyd said the new project, which will begin in July, will further safeguard Australian agriculture from pathogen and pest incursions.

“The early detection and identification of any new pathogen or pest is critical, and a pre-emptive approach is vital to control,” Mr Lloyd said.

“This initiative will utilise next-generation technologies to build on Australia’s reputation for offering clean, green plant products.”

Minister Joyce said the government’s Rural R&D for Profit programme delivered on the government’s election commitment to increase R&D funding for practical projects to give farmers new tools to help them increase farmgate returns and capture opportunities in global markets.

“We know it’s important that R&D isn’t just pie-in-the-sky ideas,” Minister Joyce said.

“The Rural R&D for Profit programme funds projects that deliver practical and accessible results for farmers, including managing pests, better pasture management and production techniques and improving access to premium markets.

“The $180.5 million Rural R&D for Profit programme is on top of around $700 million that the government already invests in rural R&D each year.”

Fast facts

  • The Rural R&D for Profit programme funds projects that address the government’s rural RD&E priorities: advanced technology, biosecurity, managing natural resources, as well as promoting industry and on-farm adoption of R&D.
  • The first two rounds of the Rural R&D for Profit programme delivered grant funding of almost $79 million for 29 projects, matched by more than $109 million in cash and in-kind contributions from successful grantees and their partners.
  • In 2015 the value of export trade in all agricultural plant commodities (horticulture, forestry, grains) needing certification of pest area freedom (any pest) was approximately $1.6 billion.
  • The domestic value of the horticulture, forestry and grains industries in 2016-17 is estimated at $29 billion.
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Aussie plant biosecurity gets a $21M tech injection

Australia is on track to adopt some of the most sophisticated plant pest surveillance technologies in the world after Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) secured a Federal Government grant and co-investor funding to deliver a $12M plant biosecurity push.

Announced by the Australian Government today, the $7.4M Rural R&D for Profit grant will complement more than $14M in investment across the seven plant Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) and partners such as the CSIRO, universities and state government agencies.

Vegetable industry body AUSVEG and Plant Health Australia are also key collaborators.

Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd (pictured left) said the new project, which will begin in July, will further safeguard Australian agriculture from pathogen and pest incursions.

“The early detection and identification of any new pathogen or pest is critical, and a pre-emptive approach is vital to control,” he said.

“Pests and diseases can devastate growers, affect the supply of timber, food and fibre products and hinder trade opportunities.

“This new $21M initiative will utilise next-generation technologies to build on Australia’s reputation for offering clean, green plant products.”

The five-year project will see the construction and establishment of eight state-of-the-art mobile pest monitoring hubs, including a suite of smart surveillance traps that capture airborne fungal spores and insects and reference them against GPS, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction data.

That data will then be fed real-time into cloud-based system AUSPestCheck – a national database that is already being used by State and Territory governments. It will then be distributed to producers, governments and industry groups in the form of immediate alerts, pest forecasts and general reports to support fast, informed and collaborative decision making.

Mr Lloyd said these pilot monitoring hubs will be positioned on the edges of incursion areas to prevent the spread of threats, and also in new pest and disease zones to determine the breadth of any problems. They will also be employed for spot checks in pest-free regions, with the data gathered used to support market access.

“This new initiative will utilise next-generation technologies to allow producers to receive timely and accurate information about pests and pathogens in their region, help them with management decisions, reduce resistance and demonstrate pest-free status to export markets,”  he said.

Throughout the life of the project, producers will be trained to access the data system, and shown how to use it to improve farm productivity and reduce farm input costs. This announcement comes off the back of the nation’s plant RDCs’ commitment to unite efforts to strengthen Australian plant biosecurity, made in March. It also complements the Federal Government’s announcement of three separate biosecurity projects on May 13.

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Regional Landcare Facilitators come together in Canberra

The 2017 Regional Landcare Facilitators Conference held in Canberra on 17 and 18 May brings together 70 Regional Landcare Facilitators and Sustainable Agriculture Facilitators from across Australia, to discuss and advance their role in continuing the development of sustainable farming practices across the nation.

Speaking at the conference today, Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, said regional facilitators were a key component of the government’s strategy to better manage natural resources and facilitate sustainable productive agriculture across Australia.

“The Regional Landcare Facilitators (RLF) network brings together landholders, industry and community leaders at the crucial local level, and acts as a conduit for government natural resource management objectives and new research and innovation to the farmer,” Minister Hartsuyker said.

“Over 80 per cent of Australian farmers are involved in Landcare. Facilitators provide an essential link to the farmers who manage more than 50 per cent of Australia’s landmass and its natural resources.

“Facilitators provide these links by building relationships, providing leadership; mentoring and training; and providing vital feedback to the Australian Government on emerging local community issues.

“The more than $1 billion investment in Landcare announced in the 2017 Budget last week, confirms the government’s commitment to the program and acknowledges the role of facilitators in delivering real outcomes that have a genuine impact not only on the health of our land, but on the prospects of the nation.

“The RLF network has played a major role in helping communities, land managers and farmers to better care for their land, water and biodiversity. By encouraging and facilitating the adoption of innovative ideas and practices and best practice sustainable land management techniques, facilitators are our partners in supporting Australian farmers to remain sustainable and at the cutting edge.

“This year’s Regional Landcare Facilitators Conference focuses on tools to influence farmers, build networks and demonstrate productivity.”

For more information on Landcare, visit landcareaustralia.org.au.

Media contact:

Simeon Lawson, 02 6652 6233 or 0423 962 872

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$9.2 million to help turn dung into dollars

Using dung beetles to increase farm productivity and profitability will be the focus of a new project to be led by Meat and Livestock Australia, supported with $9.2 million in Coalition Government funding.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce (pictured below), joined the Member for Page, Kevin Hogan MP, in Casino today to announce funding being delivered under the Rural R&D for Profit Programme, which supports R&D projects that translate into genuine benefits at the farmgate.

“The humble dung beetle can deliver big benefits on-farm. They can improve soil health; reduce the spread of flies, pests and diseases; increase pasture health; and reduce nutrient run off into waterways. No wonder the ancient Egyptians gave them a sacred status!” Minister Joyce said.

“This project will help farmers unlock the potential of these powerful ‘ecosystem engineers’ to increase productivity and reduce the costs of production, effectively turning dung into dollars.

“MLA will collaborate with 12 project partners with the shared goal of realising the value of the 80 million tonnes of dung produced by Australian livestock every year.

“Rural R&D for Profit Programme funds projects that deliver practical and accessible results for farmers, including managing pests, better pasture management and production techniques and improving access to premium markets.”

Mr Hogan said the project had the potential to deliver exciting benefits for Australia’s $23 billion livestock industry.

“This project will involve the roll-out of national and region-specific dung beetle services to a network of over 1000 producers and producers groups.

“These groups will have access to information such as a dung beetle database, infield training and online education packages to help select the more beneficial dung beetle species for their farm.”

Minister Joyce said the government’s Rural Research and Development for Profit Programme delivered on the government’s election commitment to increase R&D funding for practical projects to give farmers new tools to help them increase returns at the farmgate and capture opportunities in global markets.

“We know it’s important that R&D isn’t just pie-in-the-sky ideas, but can be translated into real results at the farmgate,” Minister Joyce said.

“Our funding for the $180.5 million Rural R&D for Profit programme is on top of around $700 million that the government already invests in rural R&D each year.”

Fast facts

  • ABARES has found that for every dollar the government invests in agricultural R&D, farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years.
  • The Rural R&D for Profit Programme funds projects that address the government’s rural RD&E priorities: advanced technology, biosecurity, managing natural resources, as well as promoting industry and on-farm adoption of R&D.
  • The first two rounds of the Rural R&D for Profit Programme delivered grant funding of almost $79 million for 29 projects, matched by more than $109 million in cash and in-kind contributions from successful grantees and their partners.
  • The CSIRO’s 1965-1985 Dung Beetle Project successfully introduced 23 species of South African and European dung beetles to Australia, improving the quality and fertility of Australian cattle pastures, and reducing numbers of pestilent bush flies by around 90%.
  • The American Institute of Biological Sciences estimates that dung beetles save the US cattle industry an estimated US$380 million annually.

 

Megan Dempsey

Assistant Media Adviser

Office of The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP 

Deputy Prime Minister of Australia

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

 

P 6277 7520 M: 0491 222 306 E: megan.dempsey@agriculture.gov.au

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Innovation seminar inspires all sectors of Australian hort

Members from all sectors of the horticulture industry have been left inspired and excited by the 2017 Global Innovations in Horticulture Seminar, with over 130 attendees hearing presentations from international innovation experts on new and emerging technologies in horticulture around the world.

The seminar was funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the vegetable research and development levy and funds from the Australian Government.

Headlining the seminar’s speaker list was Agfunder’s Michael Dean (pictured left), who spoke about trends in investment in agriculture.

With extensive experience including sitting on the advisory board of the World Agri-Tech Investment Summit, Mr Dean offered attendees a valuable perspective on the future of agriculture investment.

Mr Dean was joined by a collection of other speakers, with a highlight being Wageningen University’s Frans Kampers presenting on the use of technology to meet challenges in the agricultural and food sectors.

Attendees also heard the Association for Vertical Farming’s Henry Gordon-Smith (pictured bottom left) discuss the benefits of vertical farming, including a range of real-world case studies of the implementation of vertical farming.  

“The Global Innovations in Horticulture Seminar is a fantastic way for members of the industry to learn about the latest and greatest innovations in agricultural technology and the ways in which innovative thinking can help address the key challenges facing our industry,” said AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside.

“The Australian horticulture industry has to tackle many of the same challenges faced by the sector internationally – with the main issues continuing to revolve around the need for more efficient and sustainable resource use.

“The seminar showed a range of ways in which members of the industry can take advantage of new and emerging technologies to help deal with these problems.

We are proud to have presented such a diverse and exciting range of speakers for attendees, and the feedback we have received so far has been nothing short of wonderful.

“The Australian horticulture industry is thriving, and with the evolution of on-farm technology and ongoing improvements in business culture, the possibilities for what we can achieve in the future are staggering.”

AUSVEG is the leading body representing Australia’s vegetable and potato growers, and has joined other leading industry organisations to deliver Hort Connections 2017, the premier event in Australian horticulture.

“The turnout to this year’s event was fantastic, and it’s truly a reflection of the horticulture industry’s willingness and desire to learn, expand and grow both personally and professionally,” said Mr Whiteside.

“The seminar is an integral aspect of the horticulture industry’s events calendar, and we take pride in being able to present attendees with fantastic new information and fresh perspectives year after year.”

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Aldi announces new business strategy

Aldi Australia has announced a new business strategy labelled “Good Different”.

The “Good Different” strategy will see Aldi promise “to maintain pressure on the competition” and focus on the differences in its stores that set it apart from traditional supermarkets.

Aldi says the “Good Different” strategy will underpin all aspects of its business including product sourcing, supplier relationships and customer experiences.

The announcement comes at a time Aldi has nearly managed to secure 10 per cent of Australia’s supermarket spend. Aldi is also currently investing millions in new store formats and expanding into South Australia and Western Australia for the first time.

Tom Daunt, Chief Executive Officer of Aldi Australia, said after 16 years of operation in Australia, it was time to tell consumers why Aldi will continue to do things differently from traditional supermarkets.

“Aldi Australia is unapologetically different – and that’s a good thing for shoppers,” he said.

“We are proud of our differences and we stand by them wholeheartedly, as they are what allows us to bring unbeatable value to our customers, maintain strong relationships with our suppliers and support our staff every day,” he stated.

Low pricing here to stay

Despite introducing its “Good Different” strategy, Aldi maintains that its fundamental point of difference will continue to be low prices.

In 2016, Aldi reduced prices on almost half of its every day grocery range.

“While other supermarkets might offer temporary markdowns and promotional pricing, Aldi’s unique promise of permanently low prices save shoppers both time and money,” Daunt said.

Aldi encroaches on SA and WA

In announcing its new strategy, Aldi said that since its 2016 expansion into South Australia and Western Australia 30.7 per cent of South Australians have already visited one of its stores. Approximately 28 per cent of Western Australian’s have been to a Aldi store.

Aldi says it now has a 4.2 per cent SA market share and a 3.1 per cent WA market share.

 

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