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.


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.”

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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.




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!



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.