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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 25 June, 2020
In this edition:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
staying home if we're sick 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
Old and new tricks for practical risk management
Mixed farmer James Meek, Shelford

Mixed farmers can hear about old and new tricks to manage risks during a Smart Farming webinar, hosted by Agriculture Victoria, next Monday 29 June.

Whether it’s fire, flood, drought or unseasonal conditions, the webinar will help mixed farmers improve their ability to identify, understand and manage risks.

Presenter Dr Kate Burke will discuss strategies farmers can use to help them focus their decision-making and how they can go about assessing risk in terms of ‘actual versus perceived’, likelihood and consequence.

Dr Burke will also provide effective strategies to manage risk, including what high-performing farmers and business managers do well.

Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension Officer Martin Hamilton said risk management boiled down to farmers having the right “tricks” on hand to make critical decisions.

“As we’ll show in the webinar, seeing how others have handled risk well is a practical way of developing your own skills.”

Mr Hamilton said Dr Burke is a highly experienced independent farm consultant with extensive experience in agronomy.

“Dr Burke spent time in the corporate sector as a commercial manager of one of the largest grain producers in Australia and knows what it takes to run a profitable farm business,” he said.

Dr Burke has 30 years of experience in agriculture working with farmers, students, investors and regional communities in north west and northern Victoria.

The session will be recorded and made available for those who register.

Registrations can be made (via Zoom) here

For more information and to register, contact Martin Hamilton on 0429 946 149 or or Adam Buzza on 0447 525 457 or

Listen up! Latest Mallee podcast out soon
Listen up! Controlled traffic farming podcast now available

Agriculture Victoria has produced a new podcast series focussing on livestock and land management in the Mallee.

The new podcasts, hosted on the Mallee Sustainable Farming website, provide timely information for Mallee farmers through the winter months.

This Friday evening Agriculture Victoria Land Management Development Officer Rebecca Mitchell will be discussing how Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) can directly benefit Mallee farmers and share some innovative examples of how it has been adopted.

Also in production and ready to be released weekly throughout the coming winter months, will be:

  • Feed testing – with Agriculture Victoria Livestock Extension Officer Erica Schelfhorst
  • Marketing cattle – with Agriculture Victoria Livestock Extension Officer Greg Ferrier
  • Weaning livestock – with Agriculture Victoria Lamb Industry Development Officer Nick Linden
  • Cutting crops for hay – with Agriculture Victoria Grains Regional Manager Tony Fay
  • Risky Weeds – with District Veterinary Officer Jeff Cave

Listen up!  Did you know that thirty per cent of grain farmers use controlled traffic farming?  Would you like to know more about CTF?  Listen to our new podcast in collaboration with Mallee Sustainable Faming and learn from Land Management Development Officer Bec Mitchell as she guides you through the pros and cons. Funded by the Victorian Government 2019–20 Drought Support Package.

The podcasts are delivered by Agriculture Victoria with funding from the Victorian Government’s 2019-20 Drought Support Package and can be downloaded here

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

Seasonal climate update webinars for winter
seasonal climate update webinars for winter

Agriculture Victoria’s seasonal climate update webinars for winter kicked off this week with a thorough look at the next few months ahead for the state’s grains industry.

The one-hour webinars, in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), are available to farmers in four states and are particularly relevant to those currently nursing crops through the growing season.

Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey said his outlook presentations relied on the latest data from model projections for the key climate drivers as well as the oceanic, atmospheric and soil moisture conditions.

“Those joining a live webinar will be able to ask questions, but if you can’t make it on the day there’ll be a recording available that you can watch at a time that better suits,” Mr Grey said.

The link to the Victorian webinar recording (completed on Tuesday 23 June at 12 noon) can be found here

“At this stage of the season the majority of the world’s 12 weather models are ‘sitting on the fence’ when it comes to rainfall in the next three months, although three of them are signalling ‘wetter’ for most parts of Victoria,” Mr Grey said.

“Four of the 12 models are suggesting drier in the state’s South-West region, while all are split in terms of the possibility of a La Niña this year,” he said.

More information about the winter webinars, or other Agriculture Victoria climate information can be found at:

Navigating the new Agriculture Victoria soil moisture monitoring website

Presented by Dale Boyd, Agriculture Victoria

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

The webinar includes navigating the website to highlight the features now available including easier access and the improved search function allowing users to distinguish between crop types being monitored and soil types and locations – all which influence soil moisture data.

Dale shares his knowledge in soil moisture information and how the dashboard is an important tool for farmers experiencing increasingly variable climatic conditions, specifically rainfall to make informed seasonal risk decisions.

About the presenter

Dale Boyd is a seasonal risk agronomist in the grains team with Agriculture Victoria based out of Echuca.

He has worked with the department for 20 years and during that time has worked on a range of projects linked to monitoring soil moisture, irrigated cropping, and the current seasonal risk work.

This work is a state-wide technology adoption project that uses deep soil moisture probe and weather station networks.

Dale helps Victorian dryland grain farmers and advisors interpret seasonal risk information to aid decision making using soil moisture probes recording data down to one metre.

The data obtained from the moisture probes is interpreted and presented in monthly e-newsletter updates which aims to be educational on the use of technology and informative on the seasonal conditions.

Watch the recording here.

Discover the new Soil Moisture Monitoring site at:

Support available to help boost water productivity

The State Government recently announced the amount available for the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program has increased from $5000 to $10,000. 

Farmers can access up to $5000, with 50 per cent co-contribution, for drought infrastructure investments and up to $5000 for farm business planning activities.

Recent changes to the program have also included additional eligible drought infrastructure investments to now include soil moisture probes, weed control and specific new technologies to improve mobile phone connectivity.

For more information on the program and to submit an application contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or


A capacitance probe (pictured left).  These probes are installed in the ground in a representative area of the farm to measure soil moisture at 10 cm increments down the soil profile.  The soil moisture data is transmitted to your smart phone or other device and presented in a user-friendly graph format.

Soil moisture monitoring incentives are also available, until August 2020, to eligible landowners through the pilot Shepparton Irrigation Region Soil Moisture Monitoring Equipment program. 

More details about this program can be found on the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority website,

These soil moisture monitoring incentives are timely given that irrigators now have greater control of water around the farm as a result of irrigation system modernisation and improved farm irrigation layouts.

With greater control of water, irrigators can use soil moisture monitoring technologies to achieve even more water productivity benefits.

Soil moisture monitoring provides objective information and helps reduce the guesswork involved in irrigation decision making.

Soil moisture monitoring trial

Agriculture Victoria in conjunction with Murray Dairy trialled various soil moisture monitoring devices on-farm over a three-year period (2016-2018) under different surface irrigated forages including lucerne, sorghum and pasture.

Key learnings from the trial were:

  • Soil moisture monitoring can result in better irrigation scheduling decisions and improved water productivity over the season and it can be a very useful learning tool
  • Remote soil moisture monitoring systems (those that transmit data to your smart phone or other device) can make irrigation easier by significantly reducing the labour required for assessing when to irrigate
  • Care needs to be taken to install soil moisture sensing equipment correctly and to select a site with a representative soil type
  • Like any irrigation scheduling tool, soil moisture monitoring needs to be used in conjunction with other scheduling methods already used on the farm (ideally along with evapotranspiration (ETo) information)
  • Ongoing support, coaching and back-up service is essential
  • Readings from some soil moisture sensors can be affected by temperature and this needs to be considered when interpreting the soil moisture information.

One of the farmers involved in the trial summed up his experience by saying; “I’m happy with the probes.  There’s definitely a place for them.  They give you more confidence with your decisions."

Using soil moisture information

The graph below demonstrates the value of soil moisture information for irrigation scheduling decisions. The characteristic saw-tooth pattern created by soil wetting (irrigation and rainfall) and drying is evident.

Typically, irrigators use soil moisture monitoring to assist them to maintain soil moisture in the zone of plant Readily Available Water (RAW) to optimise plant growth. As shown in the graph, this RAW zone was configured for this site to lie between the estimated Refill point line and the Field Water Capacity line.

In this situation the irrigator regularly used soil moisture data to schedule irrigations over the season with good results.

Moisture levels were largely maintained in the estimated RAW zone, resulting in top yields and efficient water use.

Soil moisture measured at different depths under surface irrigated pasture.

Further information on different soil moisture monitoring devices and how to use soil moisture information to schedule irrigations is available in the Soil Moisture Monitoring Technote (, or by contacting Rob O’Connor on 0408 515 652.

To find out more about the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant contact Rural Finance at or by calling 1800 260 425.

For more information about available drought and dry seasons support visit, email or call 136 186.

Improving digital literacy and connectivity on-farm
improving digital literacy and connectivity on-farm

Want to know more about improving your digital literacy and connectivity? Need confidence to access technology to improve your on-farm decision making?


Join extensionAUS and Agriculture Victoria for a series of webinars which will provide a unique opportunity for you to address on-farm connectivity issues and help you to understand available digital technology - how to measure it and how to make it work as best as possible for you and your business.


Webinar 1 – On-farm connectivity
Tuesday 21 July
1.30 – 2.30 pm
Register or join at:

Webinar 2 - Getting the most out of video
meeting software
Tuesday 28 July
1.30 – 2.30 pm
Register or join at:

Webinar 3 - Internet of Things (IoT)
Tuesday 4 August
1.30 – 2.30 pm
Register or join at:

Webinar 4 – Online networking to better
communicate on-farm and service farm
Tuesday 11 August
1.30 – 2.30 pm
Register or join at:

Contact: If you need help registering please contact
Gavin Beever, Cumbre Consultants on 0438 234 886 or


An opportunity exists to participate in an on-farm digital technology audit conducted by phone by Agriculture Victoria, to understand the technology you already have available on-farm and how you can improve its efficiency.

Participants will be asked to identify what type of internet connectivity they have, where they have access to WiFi and how they use technology on their farm.

Participants will have time to prepare for the audit and will receive a property map and report of results.

To register for the audit please book a time at

Contact: If you need help registering or would like more information please contact Andy Clark,
Agriculture Victoria, on 0436 804 656 or

For more information about drought and dry
seasonal conditions support call 136 186 or visit

This project is supported by the 2019-20 Drought Support Package.

Preference will be given to participants from Central and East Gippsland, the GMID and the Millewa region of North-West Victoria.

Webinars target fungicide resistance in crops

Grain growers will have the opportunity to improve their knowledge of fungicide resistance issues over coming weeks, thanks to a series of webinars being delivered by the Australian Fungicide Resistance Extension Network (AFREN).

Fungicide resistance is a serious and increasingly important issue in the Australian grains industry. AFREN brings together leading advisers, researchers and pathologists to raise awareness of the problem.

The AFREN webinars will help growers understand how to prevent and manage resistance to fungicides in grain growing regions across Australia.

Supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), each webinar will feature regional plant pathologists and fungicide resistance experts from across the country. They will provide growers with the latest independent, best-practice advice.

AFREN extension coordinator Kylie Ireland, from the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM) at Curtin University, says the project aims to equip growers with the knowledge and understanding they need to minimise the emergence and spread of fungicide resistance in their cropping systems.

“Agronomic practices that help reduce disease pressure and fungicide requirements, along with the responsible use of available chemistries, can reduce the risk of resistance developing,” Dr Ireland says.

Growers are encouraged to join the webinars live to interact with the experts and extract the most value from each session. For those who cannot join the live events, recordings will be made available to view on the GRDC’s YouTube channel.

Webinar details:

  • Thursday, 2 July, at 2 pm ACST (2.30 pm AEST): Fungicide resistance in South Australia – Tara Garrard and Hugh Wallwork, South Australian Research and Development Institute. Register:
  • Friday, 10 July, at 2 pm AEST: Fungicide resistance in canola – Steve Marcroft, Marcroft Grains Pathology and Angela van de Wouw, University of Melbourne. Register:
  • Friday, 24 July, at 2 pm AEST: Fungicide resistance in New South Wales and Queensland – Levente Kiss, University of Southern Queensland, Steven Simpfendorfer, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Lisle Snyman Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland. Register:
Fox and wild dog collection resumes

Designated fox and wild dog bounty collection centres will open from this Monday 29 June, operating in line with physical distancing requirements including established drop off and exclusion zones.

During the suspension period, bounty participants were encouraged to continue to collect fox scalps and wild dog body parts on private properties as part of pest control activities, and to freeze or air dry them.

Hunters are encouraged to refresh their knowledge of the terms and conditions of the bounty to ensure what they submit is acceptable.

Participants can submit entire fox scalps for a $10 reward and entire wild dog body parts for a $120 reward during scheduled collection times.

2020 Bendigo collections (fox only)
Address: Cnr Midland Hwy and Taylor St, Epsom
Collection type: Fox only
Time: 10.30 am – 12.30 pm


Monday, 6 July
Monday, 3 August
Monday, 31 August
Monday, 28 September
Monday, 26 October

2020 Ouyen collections (fox only)
Address: Gregory St Ouyen
Collection type: Fox only
Time: 2 – 4 pm


Tuesday, 7 July
Tuesday, 4 August
Tuesday, 1 September
Tuesday, 29 September
Tuesday, 27 October

2020 St Arnaud collections (fox only)
Address: 4 Montague St, St Arnaud
Collection type: Fox only
Time: 10.30 am to 12.30 pm


Thursday, 9 July
Thursday, 6 August
Thursday, 3 September
Thursday, 1 October
Thursday, 29 October

2020 Swan Hill collections (fox only)
Address: 7 Quin Drv, Swan Hill
Collection type: Fox only
Time: 8.30 to 10.30 am


Tuesday, 7 July 2020
Tuesday, 4 August 2020
Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Tuesday, 29 September 2020
Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Quick links

Controlling gorse - Sutton Grange
Need help controlling gorse?
Controlling gorse - Pipers Creek
Need help controlling gorse?
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

Managing dry conditions
Targeted drought resilience support goes digital

The Victorian Government is continuing to support farmers impacted by drought and dry seasonal conditions with funding and support programs that have moved online so that they are accessible by more people.

The Business Planning and Management Support for Farmers program is part of the Government’s $31 million support package for areas affected by drought and dry conditions announced last October.

The shift to making support available online acknowledges the challenges that farmers are facing as they deal with drought, bushfires and coronavirus. As part of the program, lessons in computer literacy are being offered to ensure everyone who wants to access support can take part.

Other initiatives being delivered to farmers across the Millewa region, Goulburn Murray Irrigation District and East Gippsland include computer literacy, to improve confidence and decision-making skills and online financial literacy workshops.

Farmers can also access other programs offered online by Agriculture Victoria such as learning modules on soil and irrigation management, and a water calculator to help make important decisions on water requirements.

The Government is also continuing to refine drought support to ensure it targets those most in need.

Farms and related small businesses in affected areas can access free and independent financial counselling from the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), with $640,000 allocated from the program to provide small business financial counsellors in each of the North West, North East, Gippsland and South West regions.

Funding to the RFCS has also been made available to support farm recovery efforts, including $80,000 for Gippsland, $640,000 for the North East and $400,000 for the North West Service.

The Dedicated Dairy Support Program has also been extended for another year with $320,000 to help farmers in Northern Victoria scale up, scale back or transition out of the industry.

Meanwhile, the Catchment Management Authority Drought Employment program in the Millewa and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District has been extended until September thanks to $500,000 in funding.

For more information about drought and dry seasonal conditions support and practical advice, visit

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

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.

Support for Victorian farmers

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
Victorian winter seasonal outlook
Pig producer webinars
pig producer webinars



Date: - 2 pm, 30 June

To register follow the link:

Pulse check discussion group - Pyramid Hill

DATE: Friday 26 June

TIME: 8 - 11 am

  • Growing pulses on acid soils
  • Pulse herbicide matrix

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

GUEST SPEAKER: 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

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 3: Your Resources
Thursday 2 July, 1.30 pm

Webinar 4: Your Plan
Thursday 16 July, 1.30 pm

GRDC Farm Business Update - developing management and decision-making skills
Event Details

Date: 10 July
Time: 1 - 2 pm

Location: online.


Improving the effectiveness of management capabilities, can reduce the stress associated with making complicated decisions.

More details here.

Climate webinars
climate webinars
Victorian Climate Projections 2019 - findings and tips for interpreting

Webinar 2 (and final): Victorian Climate Projections 2019 – findings and tips for interpreting
Date: 1-2pm, Friday 26 June

  • What do the projections say for Victoria?
  • What are the benefits of local-scale climate data?
  • How to understand and work with the different sources of uncertainty in projections
  • Top tips to interpret the projections correctly
  • Lots of time for Q&A with DELWP and CSIRO scientists

Join via this link on the day: MS Teams Live Event

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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

All 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.



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