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Gippsland Ag news
Thursday 13 February, 2020
In this edition
Latest news
New IoT network to benefit farmers looking to invest in agtech

To improve farmers’ access to reliable network coverage, Agriculture Victoria is partnering with the National Narrowband Network Company (NNNCo) to deliver Internet of Things (IoT) network connectivity to farmers around Maffra. 

The new long-range network (LoRaWAN) being rolled-out as part of Victoria’s On-Farm IoT Trial, will allow for thousands of sensors to be securely connected to the internet, providing farmers with real-time data to improve their on-farm productivity, efficiency and sustainability.

New network connectivity will not only benefit farmers taking part in the trial but will also provide broader opportunities for digital uptake in communities in the trial region.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said the On-Farm IoT Trial had the potential to revolutionise farm businesses, putting Victorian farmers at the forefront of agricultural innovation.

“We’re excited to work with NNNCo to roll this exciting technology out to keep our farmers connected and help them work smarter – not harder,” Ms Symes said.

CEO of NNNCo Rob Zagarella said the company’s network and data platform roll-out was a commitment to every farmer in the trial regions to provide the coverage they needed to better manage and run their operations.

“Farmers now have a broad choice of devices and applications from the growing global IoT ecosystem,” Mr Zagarella said.

“This includes irrigation management and control, and real-time monitoring of soil health, rainfall, cattle movement, farm assets, worker safety, and water tank levels so that they can proactively respond to the needs of the farm,” he said. 

To find out more about the On-Farm IoT Trial visit agriculture visit

Victoria’s 2020 Rural Women’s finalists announced

PICTURE: Jackie Elliott, Kerryn Wildenburg, Katrina van Eyk and Kelly Barnes.

Congratulations to Jackie Elliott (Byaduck), Kerryn Wildenburg (Kyneton), Katrina van Eyk (Pyramid Hill) and Kelly Barnes (Dunkeld) who have been announced as the Victorian finalists in the 2020 Victorian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Awards.

The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award acknowledges and supports the essential role women play in rural industries, businesses and communities.

The Victorian winner will be announced at an upcoming ceremony on March 24 and will receive a bursary of $10,000 to implement their project.

Discover more about the awards at

Looking after your best work mate – dogs on farms

by Dr Jeff Cave, District Veterinary Officer

There is no argument that working dogs are an enormous asset to farmers and it stands to reason, if your dog travels on the back of your ute, you need to take extra care to avoid exposing it to heat stress on hot days.

While it is legal to allow appropriately restrained dogs to travel on the back of utes, dogs left in the sun for long periods can quickly dehydrate or even die from heat stress.

Adequate shelter, for example a fixed canopy, needs to be provided to protect tethered dogs from extreme temperatures.

A lot of utes and tray backs these days are made of metal and will heat up quickly and could easily burn dogs’ paws. It is now a requirement to ensure metal floors in utes are covered on a hot day.

Ensure dogs kept in cages have adequate ventilation, particularly when the vehicle is not moving, and ensure all dogs are given regular access to cool water.

Victoria’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act requires dogs travelling in the back of utes, trailers or open tray trucks to be tethered or caged in a manner that prevents them from falling from the vehicle. The only exemption is when dogs are actively working livestock.

The tether should only be long enough to permit the dog to stand, lie down and move about but not so long that it could potentially let the dog fall off the vehicle and be dragged or strangled.

Tethering dogs should always be regarded as a temporary, short term method of restraint.

For further advice please contact the RSPCA, your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer.

Water hyacinth – don’t buy, sell or give it away

Water hyacinth is a highly invasive weed that is choking lakes, rivers and water ways around the world and Agriculture Victoria is encouraging Victorians to report it to prevent it from taking hold in Victoria.

Water hyacinth may look pretty but has a well-deserved reputation for being the world’s worst water weed.

An advertising campaign, ’Water hyacinth – don’t buy, sell or give it away’, targets the illegal buying or selling of the State prohibited weed - the highest category of declared noxious weeds in Victoria.

The campaign will run on social media and online advertising sites in English, Mandarin, Khmer and Vietnamese.

Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity Manager – High Risk Invasive Plants, Angela Constantine said water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), was very harmful in aquatic environments.

Ms Constantine said water hyacinth could rapidly affect water quality, native aquatic plants and fish, and have an impact on recreational activities such as fishing and boating.

“We are asking people, if they see water hyacinth, to contact Agriculture Victoria and we will remove it before it can spread further,” Ms Constantine said.

It is illegal to buy, sell, display, propagate or transport State prohibited weeds.

Ms Constantine said in recent years Agriculture Victoria had prosecuted people for selling water hyacinth on Facebook and Gumtree.

“It’s important to know what you are buying, selling, or giving away,” she said.

Last financial year, Agriculture Victoria detected 21 cases of water hyacinth being traded online, and nine of these were in Victoria.

Ms Constantine said water hyacinth was easier to recognise during summer when it was flowering.

“Water hyacinth can be identified by its distinctive mauve flower and bulbous spongy stems,” Ms Constantine said.

“It is often kept for its very attractive flower but owners may be unaware of the profound threat it poses.

“In just one season, a single plant can produce more than 3000 seeds that can survive for more than 20 years.”

If you see or have any water hyacinth, or any other State prohibited weed, report it to the Agriculture Victoria Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or email

Recovery support for Gippsland farmers

Agriculture Victoria’s focus is turning from immediate bushfire relief activities to short, medium and long-term recovery for farmers affected by fires in Gippsland.

Over the past 42 days, Agriculture Victoria has been in contact with 907 property owners across the fire affected areas in East Gippsland, delivering information about support services, providing land and livestock management advice and gathering loss and damage information.

Agriculture Victoria has also met with fire affected producers at community bushfire information sessions and has heard first-hand about the challenges farmers are facing. This has assisted in identifying the information and advice producers will need to recover.

Gippsland Agriculture Recovery Manager Keren Walker said the information received from farmers is being used to develop a suite of recovery services that are relevant, timely and targeted towards meeting their immediate, medium and long-term needs.

“Relevant technical information that addresses issues such as feeding livestock, looking after farm dam water and pasture recovery will help producers to make sound decisions as the recovery work commences,” she said.

“Recovery services will also include pasture walks, feed budgeting and water planning workshops. Information about these activities and other resources will be promoted on social media and the Agriculture Victoria website.”

Farmers can contact the Gippsland Agriculture Recovery Manager on 03 5159 5118 during business hours or speak to an Agriculture Victoria staff member at one of the East Gippsland Shire Council’s Bushfire Mobile Recovery Service community information sessions.

Gippsland producers can also request one-on-one consultations with Agriculture Victoria at

Bushire Mobile Recovery Service
Pasture recovery after fire

One of the early tasks for farmers returning to their property after fires will be to evaluate the viability of pastures and grasses.

Agriculture Victoria Livestock Extension Officer Fiona Baker said most open plains grass paddocks that had short or little grass when the fires passed through generally experience low to moderate intensity burns.

“Paddocks will often look brown to dark brown in colour a few days after the fire,” she said.

“Most of these paddocks can recover on their own given time and moisture.

“Annual pastures generally will need to be resown.”

As for perennial pastures, Ms Baker said the need to resow would depend on the severity of the burn and what the paddock density was like prior to the burn.

“Paddocks that had long grass can suffer from moderate to high intensity burns,” she said.

“These paddocks may look dark brown to black in colour a few days after the fire and may struggle to return to normal production.

“The viable plant numbers in the paddock may have been reduced and may need either oversowing or resowing.”

Ms Baker said paddocks bordered by forested areas often suffer from high to very high intensity burns, therefore looked more charred or like ash beds with very little remnant vegetation remaining. Burnt cow pats, hay or silage bales will also often look like this.

“A quick test to see whether grasses have survived is to go out into a paddock and give a tuft or two a gentle tug,” she said.

“If it stays/holds in the soil, the plant has a good chance to recover with adequate moisture. If it pulls straight out, it is dead and the paddock will need resowing.”

Another method farmers can use to test what will recover while waiting for adequate rains is to mark out a one metre square in a paddock and hand-water it with five litres of water each day - enough to maintain damp soil from day-to-day, for at least a fortnight.

“If nothing reshoots, the paddock will need to be resown,” Ms Baker said.

Native pastures will be first to respond to rain and show signs of recovery.

Ms Baker said this has been observed following the recent rains in the fire affected areas.

“Certainly, some paddocks may need a complete resow, some may just need to be oversown to thicken them back up, while others may just need time to recover,” she said.

“Most perennial grasses are quite resilient and can survive the low to moderate burns.”

Agriculture Victoria staff are on the ground in fire-affected areas to support and advise all farmers who need assistance – whether it’s animal welfare, pasture recovery – or anything agriculture related.

For more information on pasture recovery after fire or to find out about support for farmers impacted by fires go to

Drought and dry seasons support services and information
Domestic and stock bore license fee waiver

The Victorian Government is waiving the $235 application fee for new domestic and stock bore construction licences (BCL) for landholders in eligible areas of Victoria.

This initiative will help landholders secure their domestic and stock water supply needs in areas experiencing drought and dry conditions.

Apply online at the Victorian Water Register

Household Financial Relief Program

The Household Financial Relief program is being delivered by The Country Women's Association of Victoria Inc. – CWA through its CWA Drought Relief Program.

The program can provide up to $3000 to eligible farming families, farm workers and farm dependent contractors to reimburse them for household expenses like school costs, utilities, food and medical bills.

For more information and to apply contact the CWA online at or email them at

For more about the program and other available drought support visit or call 136 186.

The On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program

This program is now open to assist eligible farm businesses to invest in on-farm drought preparedness and to seek business advice.

A grant of up to $5,000 (GST exclusive) per farm business is available to assist eligible farm businesses to implement on-farm infrastructure improvements and or undertake business planning and advice activities.

The Scheme is available to eligible farm businesses in the local government shires of Wellington and East Gippsland.

For more information and to access the grant call Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit

For more information about other drought and dry seasonal conditions support from Agriculture Victoria go to or call 136 186.

Drought employment program

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority received funding for the Drought Employment Program from the Victorian Government last October.

The program provides off-farm employment training for farmers, farm workers and individuals affected by drought and dry seasonal conditions to expand or obtain transferable employment skills.

For further information:

Phone East Gippsland CMA on (03) 5152 0600 


Visit Gippsland drought employment 

On-farm emergency water infrastructure rebate scheme

Producers are encouraged to access the On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme for the purchase and installation of emergency water infrastructure for livestock.

In Gippsland, the scheme is available to eligible farm businesses in the Wellington and East Gippsland shires.

Farm businesses NOT in these local government areas can make an application if they can demonstrate a critical water need for livestock resulting from current seasonal conditions.
These applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The scheme is available for water infrastructure purchased since 1 July 2018. Guidelines and application details can be obtained from Rural Finance.

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:

What's on

Agriculture Victoria will cancel workshops on Code Red fire danger days

Drought drop-in session – Bairnsdale
Event Details

Friday 14 February
9.15 – 11.30 am

East Gippsland Livestock Exchange, Bairnsdale


Bairnsdale and district farmers are invited to drop-in for a chat with the Agriculture Victoria team at the East Gippsland Livestock Exchange.

Come along to find out about current drought assistance grants, animal feed requirements, early weaning, managing stock water and, establishing and using stock containment areas.

There will also be information available for fire-affected farmers.

NLIS management workshops – Leongatha
Event Details


Friday 14 February
9.30 am – 3 pm

Agriculture Victoria
12 Pearl Street

Register on Eventbrite here.


Topics include: 

  • Setting up, navigating and using the NLIS database - practical exercise. Computers will be provided on the day or you can bring along your own laptop
  • Management of livestock movements onto your property
  • Property to Property (P2P) transfers on the NLIS database.

Sessions will run for up to 5.5 hours, with light meal and refreshment provided.

Numbers are limited to allow for a hands-on practical session.

If you have any problems with registering online please call 03 5761 1647.

Agriculture Recovery Information Sessions – Buchan and Gelantipy
Event Details


Tuesday 18 February
9 am  – 12 midday

1287 Bruthen-Buchan Road
Buchan South


Tuesday 18 February
1  –  4 pm

230 Points Road



Pasture recovery and management:

  • Fire-affected pastures: what will recover?
  • What to plant on bare ground
  • Preparation and sowing
  • Weeds and weed control
  • Grazing fire-affected pasture
  • Soil fertility


  • Animal health and feeding
  • Fencing assistance available

For further information, please contact John Commins 0428 595 153.

Please note:  Agriculture Victoria will cancel workshops on Code Red days.

This project is supported by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority through funding from the
Australian Government’s Landcare Program.

Farmer health – free 20-minute health and lifestyle assessments
Event Details

Wednesday 19 February
10 am – 3 pm

Buffalo Community Centre
30 Hall Road
Buffalo, South Gippsland


The National Centre for Farmer Health are partnering with the Better Beef Network and Agriculture Victoria to provide free 20-minute health checks for Gippsland farmers.

Agri-health professionals from the National Centre for Farmer Health will conduct the health assessments.

For all enquiries and to RSVP contact Malcolm Cock on 0418 316 009 or email

Agriculture Victoria’s 2020 lunchtime climate webinar series

Agriculture Victoria's climate webinars for 2020 have now commenced. Subscribe to ensure you don’t miss out. The next webinar will be held on Monday 24 February - details below.

The 2020 lunchtime climate webinar series will give participants the opportunity to hear the latest science, insights and innovation from a range of expert speakers.

For more information and to subscribe to stay up to date with these upcoming climate webinars visit: or contact Heather Field on 5336 6607 or

Event details

Monday 24 February 
12 – 1 pm

Presenter: Dr Luke Shelley, Bureau of Meteorology

Click here to register online


Inside the Bureau's Climate Guides Project

The purpose of the Climate Guides is to help farmers understand and manage their climate risk, by providing regionally focused climate and weather summaries that detail historical observational information available from Bureau of Meteorology weather stations.

Presenter: Dr Luke Shelley joined the Bureau in 2008 after completing a PhD on ‘Biodiversity of Macroinvertebrates in the Kerang Lake’.

Over the last two years, Luke has been involved in the Bureau’s new Agriculture program, where he is currently the acting General Manager. Luke has just finished travelling around the country to consult stakeholders on the design of the Bureau’s Climate Guides.

Luke will walk us through the inception of the project, what we did, how we created the outputs, and key learning from the project.


Gippsland Irrigation Expo
Event Details

Wednesday 4 March
10 am – 4 pm

Sale Showgrounds
1 Maffra-Sale Road


Building on the success of the 2015 and 2017 Gippsland Irrigation Expos, Agriculture Victoria is holding the next biannual Gippsland Irrigation Expo on 4 March 2020 at the Sale Showgrounds.

Expressions of Interest are being sought from exhibitors. To register your interest in attending contact Sue-Ellen Latham on 0412 523 408.

To subscribe to Gippsland Ag News

Click here

Contacting Agriculture Victoria

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

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment
contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or

A full list of our contact points can be found at:

Don't forget to check out Agriculture Victoria's social media sites for up-to-date information and news.


'Like' our Agriculture Victoria Facebook page.


Follow us on Twitter @VicGovAg


Subscribe to the Agriculture Victoria YouTube channel. 


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