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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 11 June, 2020
In this edition:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

The Victorian Government is gradually easing restrictions currently in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

In all activities, farmers are asked to be considered. Be cautious. Use your common sense. And if you don’t have to do it – don’t.

Stay safe by maintaining good hygiene, keeping your distance from others and if you feel unwell stay home.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should get tested.

The situation continues to change rapidly so please regularly check the Department of Health and Human Services website for the latest update:

More information is also available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Latest News
Standing with farmers against biosecurity threats

The Victorian Government will continue to back farmers and protect our biosecurity with strict enforcement of on-the-spot fines for those caught trespassing onto farms in the name of animal activism.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes tabled the government’s response to the Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture in parliament recently, after considering the recommendations published in February.

The Inquiry’s findings identified ways to further strengthen approaches to animal welfare and biosecurity, to build and maintain public confidence in agriculture.

The government’s response supports 13 of the 15 recommendations in full, one in principle and did not support one recommendation.

Recommendations supported include incorporating on-the-spot fines for biosecurity breaches caused by trespassers in legislation. The government will introduce this legislation with a view to making fines for this behaviour among the heaviest in Australia.

Other supported recommendations include working with farmers in developing biosecurity management plans and actions on animal welfare complaints for better public education, and the consideration of implementing closed-circuit cameras in abattoirs.

The government is already acting to strengthen animal welfare in Victoria through several initiatives, including the modernisation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA) regulations.

The Inquiry was conducted by the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee in 2019 following several illegal activities in the name of animal activism.

It was informed by 506 submissions, seven days of hearings held across country Victoria and Melbourne, and three site visits by committee members.

The government is committed to maintaining Victoria’s high level of biosecurity. The 2019/20 Victorian Budget included a $142.5 million boost to the biosecurity system.

The Victorian Government thanks the committee chair Nazih Elasmar MP, committee members and acknowledges the contributions of the many Victorians who made a submission to the inquiry or appeared as a witness.

The government’s full response is available on the Committee’s page of the Parliament of Victoria’s website.

Discover a new soil moisture monitoring platform
soil moisture probe in a paddock

Farmers, advisors and researchers are invited to explore the new Agriculture Victoria Soil Moisture Monitoring website in a 'walk-through webinar'.

The new Soil Moisture Monitoring website - launched by Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes recently - showcases Agriculture Victoria's highly regarded soil moisture probe network.

The new website replaces the previous soil moisture data dashboard with a detailed page dedicated to each of the 36 soil moisture monitoring sites across the state.

New tools featured on the website can translate soil moisture data into meaningful, real time, local information.

"My favourite tool is the 'speedo' graph showing change in overall soil moisture at a particular site," Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist, and project co-ordinator, Dale Boyd said.

"It's a simple way to represent how the soil moisture profile has changed over the last year, in other words how full the ‘tank’ is.”

The overall soil moisture 'speedo' tool is just one of the innovative features of the new website that will be explored during the walk-through webinar.

"Previously, we could only show soil moisture data, without any real interpretation.

“The new website takes this data and adds value to it, with tools that are easy to use such as a temperature gauge, current soil moisture profile and a one to three-month rainfall outlook for the state," Mr Boyd said.

The webinar – scheduled for Wednesday 17 June at 12 pm (AEST) - will be recorded and made available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

For more information about Agriculture Victoria’s soil probe network and the new Soil Moisture Monitoring website, email or contact Dale Boyd on

To register for the webinar, click here. The Soil Moisture Monitoring website can be found at:

For more information about joining webinars email or contact Alice Ritchie

The webinar is delivered by Agriculture Victoria and funded by the Victorian Government’s 2019–20 Drought Support Package.

The Very Fast Break - June
The Very Fast Break for June

Welcome to The Very Fast Break seasonal climate outlook for Victoria for June.

Find out about where the autumn rains fell, the current outlook for winter and what’s causing crazy things to happen in the Indian Ocean.

Watch The Very Fast Break to find out what it all means.

Support for growers eager to capture crop yield potential

With favourable seasonal conditions in the southern cropping region elevating the yield potential of this year’s winter crops, grain growers are eager to meet the nutrient demands of their crops to capture the potential on offer.

To support growers and advisers in understanding the in-season nitrogen (N) requirements of crops, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has published A Nitrogen Reference Manual For The Southern Cropping Region.

The manual, available for viewing and downloading via, is a comprehensive guide to understanding, managing and estimating N requirements from paddock to paddock and season to season.

The manual was collated by a team from the University of Adelaide, University of New England, the University of Melbourne and advisers as part of a GRDC-invested project. It outlines key N fertiliser decision points for cereal crops, including:

  • Tillering – re-assess soil moisture and yield potential, check tiller number in relation to current estimate of yield potential, and apply N to increase tiller number if required
  • Stem elongation – re-assess soil moisture, tiller number and yield potential based on seasonal rainfall and outlook, apply fertiliser N if required to match potential yield and grain protein target
  • Booting – if yield potential has increased significantly, additional N may be needed to maintain desirable protein levels.

Project leader Associate Professor Matthew Denton, from the University of Adelaide, said it is important for growers to make proactive assessments in-season and add N if it is needed, especially in good seasons.

“Adjusting in-season inputs to the estimated yield potential helps minimise seasonal and economic risks,” Assoc Prof Denton said.

“However, waiting for visual signs of nitrogen deficiency, such as pale leaves and low tiller numbers, will mean yield potential will have already been compromised.

“While there are some useful rules of thumb that can help growers with their nitrogen decisions, nitrogen budgeting approaches that are timely and take into account nitrogen supply from fertiliser, soil mineral nitrogen and the likely mineralisation of organic matter are needed for more accurate nitrogen management,” Assoc Prof Denton said.

“Monitoring soil moisture and nitrogen and careful management of nitrogen inputs is vital to ongoing productivity.”
The manual includes information about the various N decision support tools available to growers and advisers.

The GRDC has invested in a preliminary assessment of tools for estimating N mineralisation during crop growth in the southern cropping region.

GRDC Manager Soils and Nutrition – South, Stephen Loss, said insufficient supplies of N from the soil and fertiliser inputs are important factors in the difference between yield achieved by growers and their crop’s water-limited yield potential.

“Over recent decades, cropping rotations have intensified, pasture production has declined, and crop yield potential and nitrogen requirements have increased,” Dr Loss said.

“Data indicates soil organic matter contents are declining in most cases and the nitrogen being removed from the system is not being adequately replaced by fertiliser applications or fixed by legumes in rotation.”

Dr Loss said a separate GRDC investment had recently monitored some 200 paddocks across Australia for three seasons and while most crops did not have a major yield gap, many in high rainfall conditions were not achieving yield potential largely because N supplies were insufficient for their demands.

Farm Business Resilience Webinar Series
canva tile saying farm business resilience

Agriculture Victoria is delivering a series of four webinars to improve farm business resilience, hosted by ORM managing consultant Matt McCarthy. Farmers and farm business managers should register for the webinars to identify how to safeguard their core business operations when unexpected situations occur. Register for each of the webinars below to attend or receive a link of the recorded event.

Webinar 2: Your Financials

Thursday 18 June, 1.30 pm

Our expert guest will be Jane Foster, Agribusiness Consultant, ORM. Jane has more than 15 years’ experience in agri banking and industry before joining ORM. In this webinar, Jane will provide tips on how to work with the ‘new norms’ around accessing and extending bank finance and discuss the use of other financial buffers.

Register here

Webinar 3: Your Resources

Thursday 2 July, 1.30 pm

In this webinar, participants will be shown how to identify critical work flows, exposures and vulnerabilities, set priorities and access potential impacts using a risk matrix.

Register here

Webinar 4: Your Plan

Thursday 16 July, 1.30 pm

In this webinar, an expert panel from across agriculture will discuss how farmers have successfully built business resilience over the last decade, where are the main gaps, and how can farms build resilience into the future.

Register here

New green roof for saleyards

A new green roof for Warrnambool’s South West Victorian Livestock Exchange will save potable water and help the business attract nationwide trading.

Member for Western Victoria, Gayle Tierney recently announced the Victorian Government will fund nearly $430,000 towards the $969,581 project that will meet enhanced environmental and welfare standards.

The new roof will be installed over dirt pens and will use organic soft stand flooring to enable separation of stormwater rainfall from cattle waste, generating clean water that can be reused on site and reduce the use of potable water.

The livestock exchange in Warrnambool generates approximately $34.1 million each year for the regional economy and is currently the largest stock selling centre in south-west Victoria.

Investing in the design and construction of a new roof shelter will support the region by driving business and employment in the agricultural sector and cement its status as a leader in livestock exchange by placing a greater emphasis on quality and export control action provisions.

Livestock Biosecurity Funds grant program

The Livestock Biosecurity Funds Grant Program is now open for applications.

Apply now for support for projects or programs that prevent, monitor and control diseases in Victorian cattle, sheep, goat, swine or honeybee industries.

Go to:

PhD fellowships in the dairy industry – apply now
sheep notes

In partnership with The University of Melbourne, Agriculture Victoria is offering 17 PhD research fellowships in the dairy industry.

Based at our world-renowned research centres at Ellinbank and Hamilton, successful applicants will be rewarded with a $33,000 per annum scholarship, access to state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities for professional development and overseas travel.

To find out more visit

Young farmer business network
young farmer business network

Young Farmers of Victoria – this is your network to talk about farm business management with other like-minded young farmers through social media, articles, online and face to face forums.

Click here to join and learn more about the Young Farmer Business Network Facebook group.

Details about Agriculture Victoria events can now be found in one spot on our website. Log on to to find out what's on.

Weeds and rabbits project
weeds and rabbits logo

The Weeds and Rabbits Project is seeking support from private and public land managers to help combat pests and weeds which cost Victoria more than $1 billion a year.

Landholders are being invited to take part in a statewide survey about how they manage weeds and rabbits on their property.

The results will provide a better understanding of the barriers people face with implementing weed and rabbit management practices.

Agriculture Victoria is the lead agency in the delivery of programs to combat established invasive species, which is underpinned by the Commonwealth Government-funded Weeds and Rabbits Project.

Complete the survey at

The survey closes Sunday 24 June.

What's on
African swine fever webinars



Date: 2 pm 16 June

Current Global ASF Pandemic - Dr David Williams CSIRO

Economic Impact of ASF - Dr Lechelle van Breda APL.


Date - 2 pm 23 June

Biosecurity Best Practice Protocols

Dr Chris Richards and Dr Bri Fredrich  Apiam animal health


Date: 2 pm 30 June

To register follow the link: 

The best age to wean prime lambs - 16 June

Date: Tuesday, 16 June

Time: 8 - 9 pm

Contact: Meat and Livestock Australia, 1800 023 100


This MLA webinar features Dr Bruce Allworth of Charles Sturt University who will be discussing when is the best time to wean crossbred lambs off crossbred ewes.

Tune in to hear:

  • When do ewes cease lactation?
  • Is 14 weeks still the best option for weaning if you lamb in July?
  • What are the factors to consider when determining your weaning date?

More details at

Beanstalk drought innovation program - 16 June

Date: Tuesday, 16 June

Time: 7 - 9 am (sheep, wool and prime lamb group); 
7 - 9 pm (grain growing group)

Contact: Peter Velthuis, 
0428 990 907


Presented in partnership with Wimmera CMA, this programs offers farmers a chance to understand how world leading technologies can help future-proof their farming operation.

The program will be delivered in two groups - grain growers and sheep wool and prime lamb producers.

The Drought Innovation Program is a Victorian Government supported initiative bringing a problem-led approach to sourcing solutions from the emerging technology provider and startup ecosystem.

For details go to:

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Contacting Agriculture Victoria

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All contact points can be found at:

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