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

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
The Very Fast Break - 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 (5 June edition) to find out what it all means.

Discover a new soil moisture monitoring platform

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

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.

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 last week, 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 $142.5 million towards the state's 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.

Weeds and rabbits project
weeds and rabbits

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 state-wide 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.

Growers warned of potential crop injury if switching herbicides

Grain growers are being warned about the potential injury to young cereal crops should they consider applying 2,4-D as a direct replacement for MCPA phenoxy herbicides.

If access to MCPA (2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid) for post-emergent broadleaf weed control is an issue for growers, switching to 2,4-D will require an adjustment in timing of application.

Independent Consultants Australia Network (ICAN) weed specialist Mark Congreve says MCPA LVE can generally be applied from the three-leaf growth stage, depending upon application rate, whereas an application of 2,4-D must be delayed somewhat.

“For 2,4-D, this means waiting until the first node can be felt at the base, which normally means that tillering will have commenced and crops are typically at the five-leaf growth stage, although this can change with seasonal conditions,” says Mr Congreve, whose work in herbicide behaviour has been supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

“If 2,4-D is applied too early, the risk of crop injury is significant. Ensure the 2,4-D label is fully read and understood, especially if you are not experienced with early applications of 2,4-D.

“Crop varieties have different levels of tolerance. Additionally, 2,4-D ester is often more damaging than amine, and the addition of some tank mix products, or spraying oils, can further increase risk of damage.

“There may be some growers, from the younger generation especially, who have never had to seek an alternative to MCPA for post-emergent broadleaf control,” Mr Congreve says.

“They may therefore be unaware of the risk to establishing crops if they use 2,4-D too early.”

Mr Congreve encourages growers to seek expert advice if they are planning to spray with 2,4-D as other factors also need to be considered when determining the most appropriate application timing.

“Several broadleaf herbicides only carry label recommendations for tank mixing with MCPA, and not 2,4-D, so it would be wise to speak with the manufacturer before switching to 2,4-D as there may be crop safety issues or possibly legal constraints, depending upon state regulations.”

More information on post-emergent weed control is available in the GRDC’s Understanding post-emergent herbicide weed control in Australian farming systems manual, available at

Livestock biosecurity funds
livestock biosecurity

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.

More information at

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.

PhD fellowships in the dairy industry – apply now

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 farmers scholarships - applications open until 14 June
young famrers scholarships

The Upskill and Invest – Young Farmers Scholarship Program provides young farmers and/or young farm workers up to $5000 towards training or study (Upskill), and up to $5000 extra funding to invest on-farm or in professional development (Invest), to put new skills into practice.

Each year, scholarships are awarded to young farmers aged 35 or younger. Since the program was established in 2015, 63 young farmers have been awarded scholarships.

The scholarship program is designed to be flexible and to fit with the different demands and ambitions of young farmers. It provides young farmers and those who work directly on farm with an opportunity to invest in themselves and their career.

Applications for this year’s round of scholarships are now open to farmers aged 35 or under who have been working in farm businesses for at least three days a week for the past three months, with at least two years total experience on-farm.

To find out more about the program and to apply for a scholarship, visit

Applications close on Sunday, 14 June.

Managing dry conditions
access up to $5000 for on-farm drought infrastrcuture to improve mobile phone connectivity, weed control or soil moisture probes.
On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants program expanded

The maximum value of the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants has increased from $5000 to $10,000 to boost farmers’ access to professional services while still enabling farmers to invest in drought preparedness infrastructure.

Eligible farm businesses can now apply for:

  • up to $5000 for business decision making activities (with no-contribution required)
  • up to $5000 for infrastructure investments (with at least 50 per cent co-contribution required).

There are three new eligible infrastructure investments under the resilience grants:

  • technologies to improve mobile phone connectivity
  • weed control (e.g., purchase of registered herbicide)
  • soil moisture probes (as an explicit investment under soil moisture monitoring activities)

For more information and to access the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants program, call Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit

Farmers are encouraged to apply early to ensure they do not miss out on funding.

Dry seasons support
Support for Victorian farmers continues

Agriculture Victoria remains available to assist Victorian farmers. We want to reassure farmers, particularly those impacted by bushfires and drought, that we will continue to provide support services to you and your farming business. However, the way we are doing this during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed.

What are we doing differently?

We are moving from our usual face-to-face client contact to other alternatives. This means we might call you on the phone, send you information via post or email, invite you to a video or teleconference, or even a webinar.

Our technical support remains available to help landholders affected by fires and drought in East and Central Gippsland, North East, Millewa and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District. 

Farmers can call us to access information tailored specifically to their needs on a range of topics including:

  • feed planning and pasture recovery
  • supplying feed and water to livestock
  • land and farm water management
  • general technical information
  • other assistance available and grants programs

Farmers affected by drought and bushfire

For support in bushfire-affected areas contact our Agriculture

Recovery Managers:

  • Gippsland – Keren Walker on (03) 5159 5118
  • North East – Kylie Macreadie on 0428 975 728

For support in drought-affected areas contact our Dry Seasonal Conditions Coordinators:

  • Millewa – Sue McConnell on 0418 572 087
  • Northern – Mick Bretherton on 0428 346 209
  • East and Central Gippsland – Nick Dudley on 0428 562 139.

Or email us at

Farmers can also continue to call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186 and access the website anytime at –

There are many other agencies providing assistance too – this includes the Rural Financial Counselling Service:

  • in Gippsland call 1300 834 775
  • in the North East call 1300 834 775.

Rural Finance is administering many grants programs for drought and bushfire impacted farmers. Give them a call on 1800 260 425 or access online anytime at   

Dairy support

The Dedicated Dairy Support Program is available to dairy farmers in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District who are considering structural or significant changes to their business.

Decisions could include leaving the industry, scaling back (or up), family succession or transitions to other enterprises.

For more information go to, call 1300 834 775 or email

Bushfire Recovery Victoria is also a great service to connect you with recovery services and information from the whole of the Victorian Government. Call them on 1800 560 760 or visit at

are you a dairy farmer in the gmid?
Dry seasons hotline

Millewa and Carwarp district farmers can contact Agriculture Victoria on 1800 318 115 for dry seasonal conditions information and advice.

You may have questions about:

  • feed budgeting
  • stock containment areas
  • feed testing
  • livestock requirements
  • biosecurity
  • soil management

Our staff can also discuss other available support including grants.

CWA Drought Relief Program

The CWA of Victoria’s Drought Relief Program has been provided a funding boost by the Victorian Government for the provision of household financial relief.

A grant payment of up to $3000 per individual applicant and/or household is available for farming families, farm workers and contractors that are drought-affected and reliant on farming as their primary source of income.

This program is being funded through the Victorian Government’s Farmers’ Drought Fund - Household Financial Relief program.

To access an application form or to find out more go to or email

For anyone seeking a copy of the application form or requiring assistance to complete the application, please contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or email the CWA on

Feeding livestock website
feeding livestock website

Did you know that the Agriculture Victoria’s Beef and Sheep Drought Feeding and Management online books have a new home?

They are housed and updated on the Feeding Livestock website and can be downloaded or viewed in whole or as individual chapters on any device.

Other key features of the website, include:

Upcoming webinars
MLA Webinar: The best age to wean prime lambs

When: Tuesday 16 June, 8 – 9pm

Dr Bruce Allworth of Charles Sturt University 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?

Learn more and register online.

Contact: Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) on 1800 023 100 or

Pig producer 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:

pig producer webinars
The road to improved nutrient use efficiency for a contemporary dairy industry

17 June - Dr Cameron Gourley, Senior Research Scientist, Soil Sciences, Ellinbank

Nutrient management continues to be a high priority for both production and environmental performance on Australian dairy farms.

As dairy production systems intensify, increased cow numbers result in greater reliance on imported feed and fertiliser, causing larger nutrient fluxes, greater GHG emissions, and lower nutrient use efficiency. Increased animal densities can also mean excessive nutrient loads from excreta and an increasing proportion of manure requiring collection, storage and land application.

In this seminar, nutrient flows at the farm- and within-farm scale will be presented, emphasising recent research outcomes quantifying nitrogen and carbon losses from dairy cow manure and demonstrating improved nutrient management can lead to improved productivity and environmental outcomes.

Farm business resilience webinar series

Agriculture Victoria is delivering a series of webinars to improve farm business resilience. 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

Webinar 3: Your Resources
Thursday 2 July, 1.30 pm

Webinar 4: Your Plan
Thursday 16 July, 1.30 pm

Pulse check discussion group - Pyramid Hill
  • Growing pulses on acid soils
  • Pulse herbicide matrix

DATE: Friday 26 June

TIME: 8 - 11 am

LOCATION: 285 Gladfield Road, Gladfield (14.8 km west of Pyramid Hill)

GUESTSPEAKER: Helen Burns, NSW DPI Wagga Wagga, local agronomists

Breakfast from 7.30 am.

The GRDC Southern Pulse Extension project, delivered by a consortium of organisations involved in the pulse industry across GRDC's Southern region, provides a collaborative opportunity to increase the knowledge of growers and advisers on sustainable pulse production, improving the Southern Region's capacity to maximise future growth and profitability.

Attendees do not need to have attended previous meetings or have any prior knowledge of pulse production. The event is free and all are welcome.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Claire Pickles on 0429 922 780 or

Climate webinars
climate webinars
Navigating the new Agriculture Victoria soil moisture monitoring website

​In this webinar, Dale Boyd will provide an explanation and walk-through of the new Agriculture Victoria soil moisture monitoring website.

This will include navigating the website to find the soil moisture probe nearest to you and interpreting the data collected at that site.

Dale Boyd shares his expert knowledge in how soil moisture information can be used to make valuable and informed seasonal risk decisions.

When: Wednesday, 17 June, 12 – 1 pm

Register online.

Contact: Alice Ritchie on 0429 386 781 or

Managing climate variability webinar - MLA

Topic: Overview of the Managing Climate Variability R&D Program and Extreme Events Forecasting

Description: Doug McNicholl will provide an overview of the long-standing cross-sectoral MCV Program and introduce the Forewarned is Forearmed (FWFA) Rural R&D for Profit Project. His presentation will focus on the outputs, outcomes and impacts sought from the MCV and FWFA for individual producers and broader industry benefit.

Time: 1 pm, 25 June (Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney)


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Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

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