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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 12 December, 2019
In this edition

Beware of nitrate poisoning

Millewa farmers get along to a drought drop-in near you

Drought support

Climate webinars

The Very Fast Break

Pet pigs and small herds a focus for PICs

Accelerated Adoption Initiative

Feeding livestock website

On-Farm Emergency Water rebate scheme

Boost your business: food innovation voucher stream

Irrigating Agriculture

Water Market Watch app

Young farmer business network

Planning support for small-scale pig and poultry producers

What's On

Beware of nitrate poisoning

With the ongoing drought and dry seasonal conditions there is a heightened risk of nitrate poisoning in livestock.

When an animal is poisoned by nitrate the ability of its blood to transport oxygen is reduced.

As a result, an affected animal will have difficulty breathing, followed by becoming weak and staggery before collapsing and dying.

If clinical signs are noticed early enough, veterinary treatment is possible.

A range of different weeds, crops and pasture plants have been associated with nitrate poisoning.

Capeweed, variegated thistle, marshmallow and pigweed are well-known accumulators.

Other crop plants including maize, rape, soybean, linseed, sorghum, millet, wheat, oats and barley have also been associated with nitrate poisoning, under certain growing conditions.

The factors that typically lead to plants causing nitrate poisoning include:

  • rapid plant uptake of soil nitrate following rain after a prolonged dry spell
  • moisture stress and low temperatures
  • the use of nitrogenous fertilisers
  • spraying with hormone-type herbicides such as 2,4-D makes plants more palatable

If you have any concerns, it is recommended that hay and other feed be tested prior to feeding to determine its nitrate levels.

Cattle and sheep can tolerate a certain amount of nitrate.

One way of reducing the risk of nitrate poisoning is to ensure that cattle and sheep aren’t overly hungry when introduced to a new feed so their intake of nitrate is moderated to a tolerable level.

If nitrate poisoning is suspected, animals should be removed without delay from the suspect paddock/ feed and placed onto low risk feed containing less toxic herbage.

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

For more information about managing during drought and dry seasonal conditions go to or call 136 186.

Millewa farmers get along to a drought drop-in near you

Agriculture Victoria is holding a number of drought drop-ins and discussion groups across the Millewa throughout December. 

Agriculture Victoria Regional Manager Grains Northern, Belinda Pritchard said the sessions will be informal opportunities for farmers to sit down and get advice or receive assistance from the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) to complete grant applications.

Ms Pritchard said farmers can discuss their feed test results, developing a ration, stock containment areas and available drought support options including the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program. 

This program provides a grant of up to $5000 (GST exclusive) per farm business to assist farmers implement on-farm infrastructure improvements and/or undertake business planning and advice activities.

For more information about assistance available to help Millewa and surrounds farmers manage during drought and dry seasonal conditions call 1800 318 115 or visit

Drought support
new drought grants

Victorian farmers impacted by drought and dry seasonal conditions are encouraged to apply for two grant programs offering both on-farm assistance and direct financial household relief.

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 announced on 2 October 2019.

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

The On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program is now available to assist eligible farm businesses to invest in on-farm drought preparedness or to seek business advice with a grant of up to $5000.

To access the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant farmers should contact Rural Finance direct to discuss their eligibility on 1800 260 425 or go to

Both programs target farm businesses and farming families in the Wellington and East Gippsland shires, dryland farming in the Millewa region and irrigation farming in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID). 

For further information on other available support and assistance contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186, visit the website or drop into the closest Agriculture Victoria office in your area.

Climate webinar series will keep you informed

Agriculture Victoria is running a lunchtime climate webinar series in 2020, where participants will hear from a broad range of expert speakers from Agriculture Victoria, Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), CSIRO and other agencies.

Agriculture Victoria Climate Specialist Graeme Anderson said these webinars are great for busy people who want to keep informed but can’t attend face-to-face seminars, with the flexibility to connect into the webinar from anywhere with a mobile or internet connection.

“Participants can hear from experts on a range of current topics as they enjoy their lunch or they can simply watch and listen to the recording at a time that best suits,” Mr Anderson said.

“This climate webinar series will tap into a range of expert speakers so we can hear the latest science, insights and innovations in this space.”

Some of the webinar speakers include BoM’s Luke Shelley who will discuss their new Local Climate Guides for the Victorian regions, and CSIRO's John Clarke will share the new Victorian Climate Change Projections 2019.

Also from BoM, Climatologist Andrew Watkins will discuss the new BoM seasonal forecast products and new multi-week and seasonal outlooks.

“There will be several Agriculture Victoria presenters, including myself talking about weather forecasts, seasonal outlooks and climate change projections and what they can and can’t do,” Mr Anderson said.

“Agriculture Victoria Senior Irrigation Officer Rob O’Connor will discuss our irrigation products and services and how using BoM evapotranspiration (ET) data can assist determine plant irrigation requirements.

“Plus our Seasonal Risk Agronomist, Dale Grey will present the Break Seasonal Forecast updates, including both autumn, winter and spring outlooks.”

More subject experts presenting through the 2020 webinar series include:

  • Cam Nicholson from Nicon Rural Services will share valuable insights on farm decision making
  • Geoff Steendam, Senior Manager Hydrology and Climate Science, DELWP will discuss the Victorian Water and Climate Initiative and findings
  • Agbyte’s Leighton Wilksch will walk attendees through farm weather stations and examples of how they are being used to provide value for farmers.

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

The Very Fast Break
The Fast Break

The final ‘Very Fast Break’ for 2019 is here.

Catch the year in review, the winner of ‘The Break Award for notable climate model performance’ and hear from this year’s 'player of the seasons' climate indicator.

Wishing you a safe harvest and hoping 2020 bowls up a ripper ...

Watch it here.

Pet pigs and small herds a focus for PICs
Get your pig a PIC every block of land with livestock is legally required to have a Property Identification Code.

Agriculture Victoria is reminding pig owners that every property with livestock is legally required to have a Property Identification Code (PIC).

Live now, the campaign ‘Get your pig a PIC’ is aimed at people who might have a pet pig, or a small herd, through advertising on traditional and social media.

Victoria’s Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Cameron Bell said PICs were a key part of Victoria’s biosecurity system.

“It doesn’t matter whether you have one pig or hundreds of pigs, it’s important that everyone with livestock has a PIC,” Dr Bell said.

“PICs are used for locating properties to provide advice to livestock owners, to help manage animal welfare issues and to assist in the event of emergencies such as fire, flood or an exotic animal disease incursion.

“Victoria is free from many devastating diseases such as African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease and we can keep it that way through a strong biosecurity system,” he said.

“Get a PIC, identify your pigs correctly, register with PigPass and record all pig movements on the PigPass database.

“Now that summer has arrived and with it the bushfire season, it’s yet another reason to apply for a PIC if you don’t have one already, or make sure your details are up to date.”

Dr Bell said PICs were free and easy to obtain through the Agriculture Victoria website.

“It is also crucial to keep pigs healthy by ensuring they are not fed swill.”

Swill includes meat, butcher’s shop waste, bakery food that contain meat and vegetables that have been served with meat, and imported dairy products.

“Swill feeding is illegal in Australia, to help protect our livestock from exotic animal diseases.

“Pigs should be fed commercial pig rations, grain, fruit and vegetables. If in doubt, do not feed leftover food to your pigs.”
Remember, get your pig a PIC.

Visit or call 136 186.

Accelerated Adoption Initiative
sheep on burnt paddock

Red meat livestock (cattle, sheep and goat) levy-payers can now access a wide range of Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) products and services delivered directly to them at no cost following the commencement of the Accelerated Adoption Initiative.

The initiative – announced recently by MLA Managing Director Jason Strong at Red Meat 2019 in Tamworth – came into effect on 25 November 2019 and will operate until 30 June 2021.

Under the Accelerated Adoption Initiative, MLA will provide a temporary relief for costs incurred for the delivery of key products and services, from MLA, directly to red meat levy payers.

It does not include the livestock transaction levy, which will remain unchanged.

Items eligible include:

  • Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accreditation and reaccreditation
  • LPA National Vendor Declarations (NVD) books
  • LPA record keeping books
  • eDec tokens
  • Training workshops, forums and field days delivered directly by MLA such as Bred Well Fed Well, BeefUp and MeatUp Forums; and
  • Sheep Genetics membership and services.

MLA Managing Director Jason Strong said MLA’s focus is to fast-track the adoption by producers of as many MLA tools as possible that deliver direct benefit to levy payers as MLA looks to support the national recovery of the Red Meat supply chain.

“There is a unique opportunity for our industry to deliver on the Red Meat Advisory Council’s ambitious 10-year vision of doubling the value of red meat sales,” Mr Strong said.

“However, achieving this goal won’t be easy, especially given the challenges we face as an industry – particularly with recent drought, floods and fires having an impact.

“We must use everything in our collective and individual powers to deliver transformational change.

“The removal of financial barriers for producers to access MLA products and services is the first step identified by MLA to provide that direct support to producers.

“This is a practical and immediate step, with levy-payers already accessing the initiative.”

Mr Strong said MLA is looking at other ways it can directly support levy payers with further information to be released in due course.

Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) Chairman Don Mackay said MLA’s focus on delivering direct benefits to levy-payers was a welcome first step to improved adoption outcomes.

“This is a bold initiative from MLA and I thank the MLA Board, Mr Strong and senior leadership team for making it happen,” Mr Mackay said.

“We have set an ambitious 10-year target for the red meat and livestock industry and we will all have a role to play in doubling the value of red meat sales by 2030.

“Central to this is doubling the funding available for extension from our industry service providers to connect producers, livestock exporters and processors direct with our industry research.

“For MLA, providing temporary relief for costs incurred for key products and services is important as they look to further build the Accelerated Adoption Initiative.”

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 FeedLivestock website and can be downloaded or viewed in whole or as individual chapters on any device.

Other key features of the website, include;

- tools and calculators
- sheep resources
- beef resources
- climate information
- unusual feeds
- stock water information

On-Farm Emergency Water rebate scheme

The On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme is now available for the purchase and installation of emergency water infrastructure for livestock.

The scheme is available to eligible farm businesses in a number of local government areas, including: Campaspe, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, Loddon, Strathbogie, Swan Hill, Mildura and Buloke.

Farm businesses outside of the above 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, call 1800 260 425 or visit

Boost your business: food innovation voucher stream

The Food Innovation Voucher Stream is a new initiative of the Victorian Government that helps companies access the know-how needed to innovate, diversify, improve productivity and take new and innovative products to market.

The vouchers and associated Food Innovation Network will deliver on the Victorian Food and Fibre Sector strategy.

Round 4 of Boost Your Business closes Sunday 22 December 2019.


At a glance

  • Potential assistance
  • Up to $10,000 for early stage feasibility and testing
  • Up to $50,000 for process innovation, product development and research and development


Applicant businesses must be a small to medium enterprise with an operating presence in Victoria and be registered as members of the Food Innovation Network.

Irrigating Agriculture

Check out what's new on Agriculture Victoria's extensionAUS Irrigating Agriculture website this week.

The site has regular features on farm planning, irrigation scheduling, irrigation systems and water management.

You'll also find weekly irrigaiton requirements for your region.

Water Market Watch app
Water Market Watch app

Stay up-to-date with the Victorian water market with the water market watch app.

This app shows authoritative Victorian government water market data and will send you notifications directly from the Victorian Water Register.

The app lets you select data you’re interested in to set up a notification sent to your mobile phone or device.


The water market watch app shows current Victorian Water Register data about:

  • Seasonal determinations – all systems with water shares
  • Trade limits – all systems with water shares
  • Spill determinations – Goulburn, Campaspe and Murray
  • Allocation market price – weekly median price for the Goulburn and Murray systems

You can set up multiple notifications about these data topics.

The app shows current data about the Victorian water market. For more detailed data and historical trends, please visit

Young farmer business network
Young Farmers Business Network group on Facebook

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.

Planning support for small-scale pig and poultry producers

Provides Victorian small-scale pig and poultry producers with funding of up to $3,000 to help them with the costs related to obtaining a land use planning permit.

Who can apply:

At a minimum, you must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • be seeking a land use planning permit for an existing or proposed small-scale pig or poultry farm located in Victoria
  • complete a small-scale pig and poultry planning workshop prior to applying for the grant program

Other eligibility requirements may apply.

Deadline to apply: Applications close: 31 May 2020

Applications will remain open until 31 May 2020, or when the funding allocation is expended, whichever occurs first.

Contact information: 13 61 86 or

APPLY HERE: Planning Support Program for Small-Scale Pig and Poultry Producers VIC

What's On

Agriculture Victoria will cancel workshops on Code Red fire danger days

Kerang Young Farmer Business Bootcamp

Agriculture Victoria is running a Young Farmer Business Bootcamp in Kerang.

The two day bootcamp is suited to those who are young or new to managing a farm business and wanting to forge a long and successful career in beef, sheep and mixed farming enterprises by developing the skills required to respond to risks, such as dry seasonal conditions.

The bootcamp is delivered over two days - Wednesday 12 and Wednesday 19 February 2020.

Participants can expect to improve their understanding of profit and loss and cash flow budgeting, balance sheets and gross margins, planning for and managing risks and financial planning and analysis.

The bootcamps will be delivered by Tristan Wardley, Farm Business Economist, Agriculture Victoria.


Do I need to attend both days?

Yes, this is a two day program.

What can I bring into the event?

Course materials are provided.

Date and time: Wednesday 12 February, 2020, 9 am to 4 pm

Location: Agriculture Victoria's Kerang office, 26 Wellington Street, Kerang.


If you are unable to register using eventbrite or would like further information, please contact Sarah Wallis on (03) 5761 1573.

GRDC Grains Research Update (Bendigo)

GRDC Grains Research Update (Bendigo)

The GRDC Grains Research Update Events are for agronomists, consultants, researchers and growers to see and discuss the latest in research and to network with their peers about how to apply new and relevant information to the latest farming systems.

Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February, 2020

Ulumbarra Theatre
10 Gaol Road, Bendigo

GRDC Farm Business Update (Swan Hill)

The GRDC Farm Business Update events drive innovation and adoption of improved farm business management practices across the grains industry.

Wednesday 11 March, 2020

Town Hall Performing Arts Centre

57 McCallum Street, Swan Hill

9.30 am to 3.15 pm (Doors Open At 9 am)

Speakers and Topics coming soon

ABARES Outlook 2020

WHERE: Canberra

WHEN: 3 and 4 March, 2020

ABARES Outlook 2020 conference is exploring the practical steps to reaching what some call an ambitious target - $100 billion in farm output by 2030.

Be part of the conversation as we consider the opportunities and threats in reaching that target.

Early bird tickets

To register for early-bird registration rates, nominate session or speakers, or to register for our e-news updates go to

Traceability and NLIS Database Management - Producer webinar

Please note: This is a two-part webinar, delivered 8 - 9 pm Monday 15 March and 8 - 9 pm Monday 22 March. You must attend both parts to participate.

Agriculture Victoria is conducting this interactive two-part webinar to assist Victorian livestock producers to use the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database to complete transactions, including Property to Property (P2P) transfers.

This two-part webinar is relevant to cattle, sheep and goat producers.

All sheep and goats and cattle tagged with an EID NLIS tag must be transferred on the NLIS database when they are moved between two different Victorian Property Identification Codes (PICs).

This interactive two-part webinar will walk producers through setting up and using the NLIS database.


  • Setting up, navigating and using the NLIS database
  • Management of livestock movements onto your property
  • Property to Property (P2P) transfers on the NLIS database.

Numbers are limited to allow for an interactive session, so register early.

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

Subscribe here to the 'Loddon Mallee Ag News' e-newsletter and share this link with your colleagues.

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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